Skip to main content

Full text of "Jefferies' land, a history of Swindon and its environs. Edited with notes by Grace Toplis"

See other formats


•/ 



BY THE SAME AUTHOR. 

ARTHUR YOUNG ANNOUNCES 

FOR PUBLICATION DURING 1897. 



THE HISTORY OF MALMESBURY ABBEY 
by Richard Jefferies, Edited, with Histori- 
cal Notes, by Grace Toplis. Illustrated by 
Notes on the present state of the Abbey 
Church, and reproductions from Original 
Drawings by Alfred Alex. Clarke (Author 
of a Monograph on Wells Cathedral). 



London : 

SiMPKiN, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., Ltd. 



V* THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY COPIES 

OF THIS EDITION PRINTED 

FOR SALE 



r 



JEFFERIES' LAND 

A History of Swindon 
and its Environs 










I— I 

Ph 

< 

-^ 

o 



pi 
o 

I— I 

u 
u 

> 



=St 



?^"^>^ittJ 




JEFFERIES' LAND 



A History of Swindon 
and its Environs 



BY THE LATE 



RICHARD JEFFERIES 

EDITED WITH NOTES BY 

GRACE TOPLIS 



WITH MAP AND ILLUSTRATIONS 



London 

Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co Ltd 
Wells, Somerset : Arthur Young 

MDCCCXCVI 






^y^' 






COPYRIGHT 

y4// Rights Reserved 



CONTENTS 



CHAP. 




PAGE 




Introduction ..... 


ix 




Bibliography ... 


XV 


I. 


Ancient Swindon .... 


I 


II. 


HoLYROOD Church .... 


26 


III. 


Swindon in 1867 


• 51 


IV. 


Upper Upham ..... 


82 


V. 


Liddington Wick . . . . . 


108 


VI. 


The Marlborough Road . . . . 


132 


VII. 


The Devizes Road 


157 


VIII. 


The Oxford Road 


181 




Index . . , . . . 


205 



VII 



;>24!«;<;) 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



CHAP. PAGE 



1. Ivy-Church. Avebury Font , Fro7itispiece 

2. Jefferies' House, Victorl^, Street, 

Swindon ' I. i 

3. The Lawn, Swindon 

4. Ruins of Holyrood Church 

5. The Reservoir, Coate . 

6. Wanborough Church , . . 

7. Entrance to Swindon from Coate 

8. Marlborough Lane 

9. Day House Farm, Coate 

10. Chisledon Church 

11. Jefferies' House, Coate 

12. West Window, Fairford Church 

Note. — The illustrations are reproductions from drawings 
by Miss Agnes Taylor, Ilminster, mostly from photographs 
taken especially by Mr. Chas. Andrew, Swindon. 

viii 



I. 


18 


IL 


26 


. IIL 


56 


. V. 


120 


V. 


128 


. VL 


132 


VI. 


134 


. VL 


140 


. VI. 


15- 


. VIII. 


198 



INTRODUCTION 



T IFE teaches no harder lesson to any man 
I ^ than the bitter truth — as true as bitter — 
that ''A prophet is not without honour, 
save hi his own country, and in his own housed 
And fo7'ei7iost among modern prophets who have 
had to realize its bitterness stands Richard 
Jefferies, the ''prophet'' of '' field and hedge- 
row " and all the simple daily beauty which lies 
about tis on every hand. The title of " The 
Painter of the Doivns " fnight be given to him, 
as it was to the veteran artist H. G. Hine, for 
his glorification of his native country in word- 
pictures as vivid and glowing as the colotirs on 
the canvas. 

But Wiltshire never realized, during his 
lifetime, the greatness of the 7nan whom she 
had reared, and it is open to qztestion whether 
she honours his memory now. ''I cant see what 
people find to admire in his books, I can see 



IX 



X INTRODUCTION 

nothing in them,'' has been said again and again 
by those who live among the sights and scenes 
which he loved so well, and 7nade familiar to 
jaded readers in the town. 

For Sir Walter Besant was right. It is the 
Londoner who appreciates what Jefferies has to 
tell of ''the Life of the Fields!' " Why, we 
must have bee^t blind all our lives ; here were 
the most wonderful things possible going on 
tinder our very noses, but we saw them not. 
Nay, after reading all the books and all the 
papers — every one — that Jefferies wrote between 
the years 1876 aiid 1887, after learning from 
him all that he had to teach, I cannot yet see 
these things. I see a hedge ; I see wild rose, 
honeysuckle, black briony — herbe aux femmes 
battues, the French poetically call it — black- 
be7^ry, hawthorn, and elder. I see on the banks 
sweet wildflowers, whose names I learn from 
year to year, and st7'aight%vay forget because 
they gj^ow not in the streets. I know very well, 
because Jefferies has told me so much, what I 
should be able to see in the hedge and on the 
bank besides these simple things ; but yet I 
ca^inot see the^n, for all his teaching. Mine — 
alas I — are eyes zvhich have looked into shop 



INTRODUCTION xi 

windows and across crowded streets for half a 
century, save for certain intervals every year ; 
they are helpless eyes when they are turned 
from 7nen and women to flowers, ferns, weeds, 
and grasses ; they are, in fact, like tcnto the 
eyes of those men with whom I fnostly consort. 
None of us — poor street-struck creatures — can 
see the things we ought to see!' 

These are the readers who appreciate J efferies. 
And of these are formed the elect forty thou- 
sand who feel the char^n of his written words. 
'^ His own country'^ may question his right to 
be numbered among her great men, but he is 
safe in his own niche in the Campo Santo of 
English Literature, and neither neglect nor 
disparagement avail now for hurt or wounding. 
In a handy little Tourist's Guide to Wilt- 
shire, Mr. R. N. Worth says : '' Wilts hi^x needs 
not to be ashamed of its worthies !' and gives 
a list of honoured names; but the 7ia77ie of 
Richa7^d J efferies is not on his list. '* Save in 
his own country, and in his own house!' 

The spell of J efferies Land must be so7tght 
in his later books: Wild Life in a Southern 
County, Wood Magic, Round About a Great 
Estate, etc., etc. ; or, better still, it may be 



xii INTRODUCTION 

sought — and found — 07t a summer s day by any 
wayfarer on the Downs zvho possesses a seeing 
heart and eye. But, m his early days, Jefferies 
could find no utterance for the vision which came 
to him, and yet, even then, in his crudest and 
most tmformed period, he was loyal to his 
country, and desir^ed to do it honour. His 
History of Swindon and Its Environs was 
written in the days when he worked for the 
North Wilts Herald, in which the last pages 
appeared in June, 1867, when he had but a boy s 
second-hand acquaintance with the facts and 
traditions he collected so labo7'iously. ''/ visit 
every place I have to refer to, copy inscriptions, 
listen to lege7tds, examine antiquities, meastu^e 
this, esti77iate that ; a7id a thousajid othe7' e77t- 
ployments esse7itial to a correct account take tip 
my ti77te. . . . To give a7i i7ista7ice. There 
is a book published some tzventy years ago foimded 
071 a local legend. This I zua7ited, and have 
actually been to te7i differe7it houses in sea7xh of 
it ; that is, have had a good fifty miles walk, 
and as yet all i7i vain. However, I thi7ik I 
am 071 the right sce7it now, cmd believe I shall 
get it'' 

There was no spa7dng of ti77ie and labour 



INTRODUCTION xiii 

in this early work of his. Let this be re- 
membered before it receives harsh judgment. 

In the preface to The Early Fiction of 
Richard JefTeries, obvious criticisfn is antici- 
pated, and reasons are given for the reptibli- 
cation of his boyish writijtgs. The latter may 
be qttoted in this volume, 

" Why then do these early effoids 7nake their 
appearance in this permanent book-form ? 

''For two reasons ; the least worthy of which 
is, that a book-lover yearns to make his collec- 
tion co7nplete, and the Juvenilia of other great 
writers a7X 'taken as read' and placed with 
their fellows lest one link shotdd be 77tissing. 
But the reason for the student is that they 
illust7'ate — as ca7t be do7ie by no com7}ie7it from 
outsidei^s — the 77ie7ital growth of the 77ia7i, a7id 
his ttnusually slow developme7it as a write7\ 
This is why they possess interest in the eyes of 
a Jefferiesia7i stude7it, and why they are offered 
to the reading public as intellectual curios." 

The task, therefore, of editing his History 
of Swindon presented so77ie zmustial difficul- 
ties, diie to two facts — that it was written 
during the period of his i77i7naturity ; a7id that 
thirty years have elapsed sifice he wrote it. 



xiv INTRODUCTION 

The first difficulty lay in the style of his 
writing, in his authoritative pronouncements 
on matters antiquaria7i far beyond the bounds 
of his boyish knowledge of the past ; the second 
difficulty lay in the chajtges which thirty years 
have brought to Swindon, and in the difference 
between the The^i and the Now. 

After m.icch consideration, it seemed better 
to issue the book as his work, and as he wrote 
it, with all its merits or faults as the reader 
may pronotmce. To bring the History of 
Swindon up to date, to eliminate all the 
'facts'' which time has disproved, to revise his 
" antiquarian " statements with the filler know- 
ledge of a later day, would possibly have re- 
sulted in a more useful book of reference, but 
it would not have been the work of Richard 
Jefferies. The Editors task has been confined, 
therefore, to mere annotation and explanation 
of what the yoimg Jefferies wrote; and if 
local antiquarian societies will do it the honour 
of rectifying crude judgments, and disproved 
''facts,'' so much the better for the wider 
public of 7^eaders whoin this volume will never 
reach. 

Grace Toplis. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 



In addition to the usual historical works of 
reference, the following authorities have 
been consulted : — 



Wiltshire, extracted from Domesday 
Book . . . . . 

Wiltshire. The Topographical Col- 
lections of John Aubrey, F.R.S. 
A.D. 1659-70. Corrected and 
enlarged by J. E. Jackson. 1862 

Beauties of Wiltshire. 1825 . 

The Natural History of Wiltshire 
Edited and Elucidated by J 
Britton. 1847 . 

Tracts relating to Wiltshire. 1856-72 

Annales of England. 1615 

History of England under the Nor- 
man Kings. Translated from 
German of Dr. Lappenberg, by 
Benjamin Thorpe. 1857 . 

Dictionary of National Biography 

Autobiography of John Britton. 1850 

Ancient Hills. Roman Era 

History of the Rebellion. Edited by 
Macray. 1S88 . 



H. P. Wyndham. 

( Aubrey, 
i Jackson. 

J. Br it to 71. 

(^ Aubrey. 
I Britton. 

J. E. Jackson. 
Stow — Howes. 

Lappenberg. 
Thorpe. 

Ed. Leslie Stephen. 

Britton. 

Sir R. LLoai'e. 

Clare?idon. 



XV 



XVI 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 



History and Antiquities of the Duchy 

of Lancaster. 1817 . 
Wiltshire Archceological Magazine : 

"The White Horses of Wiltshire." 
Reliques of Ancient English Poetry. 
Six Old English Chronicles. (Ethel- 

werd, Richard of Cirencester, 

CvV>'« / • • • • • • 

The Fairford Windows. Monograph. 
Round the Works of our Great Rail- 
ways ...... 

Swindon : Fifty Years Ago, More or 



Gregson. 

W. C. F lender leath. 
Thomas Fercy. 



J. A. Giles, 
Rev. J. G.Joyce. 



W. Morris, 
Swindon. 



I 




HOUSE IN VICTORIA STREET, SWINDON, 
where Jefferies lived after his marriage. 



» > > . 

» » 1 



t i i 



> 1 » 



J ^ i •* If 






JEFFERIES' LAND 



CHAPTER I 

ANCIENT SWINDON 

THE early history of Swindon is involved 
in obscurity. The works by whose aid 
the mist of antiquity has in many places been 
considerably cleared away, until the outline at 
least, if not the details, of the structure our 
forefathers reared, is perceivable, here give no 
assistance. There does not appear to have 
ever been a monastery at Swindon. Its streets 
no doubt have been perambulated by the mass- 
thanes, the hooded noblemen of the cloisters, 
but they do not seem to have ev^er taken up a 
permanent residence. 

There is no chronicle of Swindon, so the 
want which the monks supplied in other places 
is severely felt here. It is impossible to com- 

B 



2 JEFFERIES' LAND 

pile an uninterruj3ted narrative. Facts there 
are, and traditions there, are, scattered up and 
down a long vista of years ; but no art, short 
of fiction, could combine them into a chronicle. 
It does not appear that any great event of 
national importance ever took place at Swindon 
— no royal murder or marriage ; no battle 
seems to have been fought, no castle built, not 
even a castrament remains in Swindon itself to 
bear a witness to bygone deeds of blood — 
blood which writes itself so indestructibly 
wherever it has been spilt. Hence no writer, 
no historian, mentions Swindon, nor gives any 
account of it as a place the memory of which 
was worth preserving for what had occurred 
there. 

Even the etymology of the name Swindon 
is uncertain. The most probable conjecture 
assigns its origin to the Danes. In the year 
993 the celebrated Sweyn,^ king of Denmark, 

^ Swend was the son of Harold Blaatand, and received 
at baptism the name of Otto, but he soon cast away the 
Christian faith, and waged war on behalf of Thor and Odin. 
He probably took a part as a private Viking in the first 
three years of piracy which devasted Wessex. Died at 
Gainsborough, 1014. 

During one of his seasons of adversity he was won back 



ANCIENT SWINDON 3 

accompanied by Olave/ king of Norway, made 
his first piratical descent upon the coast of 
England. Though bought off several times, 
he invariably returned with increased forces, 
and at length, coming to Bath, received the 
homage of the western thanes, or noblemen, 
and ascended the throne of England. This 
was in the year 10 13 a.d. Sweyn was much 
of his time in the western counties, hence it is 
conjectured that Swindon means no more than 
Sweyn's-don, dune, or hill— the hill of Sweyn. 
Dune, now usually pronounced don, was a 
Saxon word for hill — it survives still in down, 
of which there is a sufficiency in the neigh- 
to the faith from which he had apostatized, and became a 
zealous founder of Churches. 

Danish writers testify to his piety, but German and 
EngHsh writers are silent on the subject. 

For St. Edmund he had a special hatred. In marching 
to Bury to plunder the minster dedicated to him, he was 
suddenly stricken with the malady from which he died. 
Tradition says he had a vision of the saint riding armed to 
destroy him. His body was embalmed by an English lady, 
and taken, at her own cost, to Denmark, where it was 
buried in his own church of Roeskild. 

Freeman says of Swend that he was a great man, if great- 
ness consist in mere skill and steadfastness in carrying out 
an object ; his glory is that of an Attila, or a Buonaparte. 

^ Olaf Tryggwasson. 



4 JEFFERIES' LAND 

bourhood. Should this conjecture be correct, 
it would follow that Sweyn must have had 
some connection with this place, resided here, 
or made it the scene of some of his exploits. 
Strange to say, this Sweyn seems to be the 
first and the last royal celebrity who came 
into connection with Swindon. In eight cen- 
turies nothing of national importance is re- 
corded as taking place here, except this visit 
of Sweyn, and even that is a matter of supposi- 
tion. This is tolerably good evidence that the 
town was for many hundred years of little or 
no importance. A history of Swindon, pro- 
perly so-called, would not extend over a period 
of more than one hundred years : yet the place 
seems to have existed for eight hundred years. 
The only way in which its existence can be 
rendered evident is by tracing the descent of 
the surrounding landed property from owner 
to owner. 

The first of whom any record appears to 
exist as possessing land at Swindon was Earl 
William, a celebrated nobleman in the days of 
Edward the Confessor, whose reign extended 
from 1042 to 1066. The domain of Swindon 
had in all probability previously belonged to 



ANCIENT SWINDON 5 

the Crown, since it is mentioned that Earl 
William held it by right of charter, and to the 
Crown it again returned about 1050 a.d., that 
nobleman exchanging it for an estate in the 
Isle of Wight. In what manner it became 
sub-divided does not seem recorded, but when 
Domesday Book was compiled by order of 
William the Conqueror — between 1082 and 
1086 — the lands at Swindon were in the pos- 
session of five persons. Three of these were 
small, and the remaining" two extensive pro- 
prietors. All were public men, attendants 
upon the Conqueror, probably Normans, who 
came into possession by right of conquest, as 
a reward for following their master. The first 
in point of grandeur, celebrity, and the extent 
of his possessions, was no less a person than 
Odin,^ chamberlain to the Conqueror. The 

^ Swindon, as referred to in Domesday Book. "Odinus, 
the chamberlain, holds Svindone. Torbertus held it, T. R. 
E., and it was alTeffed at 12 hides. Here are 6 ploughlands. 
Two of them are in demefne with 2 fervants. And 6 
villagers and 8 borderers occupy 3 ploughlands. The mill 
pays 4 fliillings. Here are 30 acres of meadow, and 20 
acres of pafture. It was valued at 60 Hiillings; now at 100. 
Milo holds 2 hides of this manor, and he has i ploughland. 
Odinus claims them."' # 

[Odinus Camerarius tenet Svindone. Torbertus tenuit 



6 JEFFERIES' LAND 

second was the Bishop of Bayeux. Odo, 
Bishop of Bayeux — of course a Norman, for at 
that date there does not seem to have been a 
single British bishop who rendered himself 
infamous by his tyranny and ambition. When 
an insurrection broke out in the north, occa- 
sioned by the intolerable oppression of another 
Norman bishop, he of Bayeux marched there 
with an army, slaughtered the Inhabitants, and 
though an ecclesiastic, actually plundered the 
cathedral of Durham. He was now found to 
have a design on the Papacy, and set sail for 
Rome, attended by a retinue of knights and 
barons, when King William, who scarcely de- 
sired to see a vassal of his an infallible pope, 
met him off the Isle of Wight, and seized him 
with his own hands. 

The bishop cried out that he was a ''clerk 
and minister of the Lord." 

" I condemn not a clerk or a priest, but my 
count, whom I set over my kingdom," replied 

T. R. E. et geldabat pro 12 hidis. Terra eft 6 carucatse. 
In dominio funt 2 carucatse, et 2 fervi. Et 6 villani et 8 
bordarii cum 3 carucatis. Ibi molinus reddit 4 folidos. 
Et 30 acr?e prati, et 20 acrae pafturae. Valuit 60 folidi; 
modo 100. De hac terra tenet Milo 2 hidas et ibi habet 
I carucatam. Odinus eas calumniatur.] 



ANCIENT SWINDON 7 

the king, and he was sent as a prisoner to 
Normandy.^ 

^ Stow, in his Aftnaks of England, says : — " About this 
time many tempests raging in the world, certaine Sooth- 
saiers of Rome declared who should succeed unto Hilde- 
brand in the Popedom, they affirmed after the decease of 
Gregorie, Odo to bee Pope of Rome. Odo Bishoppe of 
Bayou, hearing this, who (with his brother) governed the 
Normanes and Englishmen, little esteeming the power and 
riches of the west kingdome, unlesse by right of the Pope- 
dom, might largely rule all ye inhabitants of ye earth, he 
sendeth to Rome, he buyeth a palace, he seeketh out the 
sena:ors, who with great gifts he given he joyneth with him 
in amitie, he sendeth for Hugh, Earle of Chester, and a 
great company, . . . and hartely prayeth them to goe 
with him to Italy . . . beyond the river of Poo. Pru- 
dent King William, when hee heard of such great prepara- 
tions, allowed not thereof, but thought it to be hurtfuU to 
his kingdome, and many others, wherefore, he hastily saileth 
into England, and sodenly unlooked for in the He of Wight 
met with Odo the Bishoppe, and now desirous with great 
pDmpe to saile into Normandy, and there ye chiefest of his 
Eealme being gathered together in the king's hall, the king 
spake in this sort. ' Excellent Peeres, hearken my wordes 
dligently, I beseech you give unto me your wholsome 
counsaile. 

" ' Before I sailed over the Sea into Normandie I com- 
mended the government of England to my brother the 
Bshoppe of Bayou. . . . 

" ' My brother hath greatly oppressed England and hath 
spiled the Churches of their lands and rents, hath made 
them naked of the ornaments given by our predecessors, 
and hath seduced my knights and contemning me purposeth 
tc traine them out beyond the Alpes, into foraine kingdomes, 



8 JEFFERIES' LAND 

Such was the Bishop of Bayeux, whilom 
owner of a great portion of the land registered 
in Domesday Book as vSwindon. His history 
reveals what will now appear a strange state of 
matters. When Swindon was in Its infancy 
eight centuries ago, a bishop commanded an 
army, and plundered a cathedral, than which 
two things it would be impossible to name 
others more opposed to what is at present 
considered the mission of a clerical dignitary. 
Moreover, he was the "count whom I set over 
my kingdom." Here is a bishop, a count, a 
general, and a robber, all in one. Could any- 
thing show more conclusively the confusion 
which followed close upon the Conquest ? 

an over great dolour grieveth my heart ; especially for the 
Church of God, which he hath afflicted. . . . Consider 
you worthely what is to be done hereupon, and I beseech 
you insinuate it unto me.' 

"And when all they fearing so great a performance, 
doubted to pronounce sentence against him, the valiart 
king saide, hurtfull rashnesse is alwaies to bee repressed. 

• • • I 

" Now the king committed his said brother Odo to prizoH, 
where he remained about ye space of foure yeers after, ;o 
wit, to the death of King William." | 

This is confirmed by Sappenberg, trans. Thorpe, in his 
History of England^ quoting from William of Malmesbuiy 
and others. 



ANCIENT SWINDON 9 

Under the Bishop of Bayeux there were two 
tenants ; they were named Wadard, hence they 
were probably related. Alured of Marlborough 
also held land at Swindon. He seems to have 
been a very extensive proprietor in North 
Wilts at that date. One Uluric, too, owned 
property here, and the fifth was Ulward, the 
king's prebendary, whatever that may mean. 
The lands registered as Swindon in Domesday 
Book afterwards received distinctive names. 
There was Haute, High, or Over Swindon, 
Nether Swindon and Even Swindon. Haute, 
High, or Over Swindon was undoubtedly upon 
the hill. Over is a prefix not uncommonly 
found before names of places indicating their 
position to be over, or above that town whence 
they drew their origin, or with which they 
were connected. An instance is Overtown at 
Wroughton, which still retains its name, and 
whose position indicates its origin, being 
situated high up upon the hill over-looking 
Wroughton. Besides Haute, Nether, and 
Even Swindon, there was Wicklescote, now 
known as Westlecott. It may be observed 
that north-east of Westlecott is a hill known as 
Iscott hill. Cot comes from a Saxon word 



lo JEFFERIES' LAND 

meaning habitation, and is still preserved in 
cottage. It is probable that these two places — 
Westlecott and Iscott — have been the seat of 
habitations from the earliest times. Wickles- 
cote afterwards belonged to persons of the 
names of Bluet and Bohun. Bohun is a name 
very celebrated in English History during the 
reign of Edward I. That monarch proceeded 
to tax both clergy and laity at his pleasure, 
heedless of the Great Charter, but was at 
length compelled by Humphrey Bohun and 
Roger Bigod,^ two great noblemen, not only to 

1 Roger Bigod, fifth Earl of Norfolk, Marshall of Eng- 
land, born 1245, son of Hugh Bigod, justiciar. When 
called upon to serve in Gascony, while Edward took com- 
mand in Flanders, he refused. 

"By God, earl, you shall either go or hang." 
" By God, O king, I will neither go nor hang." 
The Council broke up, and Bigod and Bohun were joined 
by more than thirty of the great vassals. In answer to a 
general levy of the military strength, the two earls refused 
to serve in their offices of marshall and constable, and were 
therefore deprived of them. 

When Edward sailed for Flanders, leaving the Prince in 
charge, they made the most of their opportunity, and pro- 
tested boldly against exactions, being joined by the citizens 
of London. An assembly of the magnates and knights of 
the shires was called, Bigod and Bohun appeared in arms, 
the prince was obliged to confirm the charters. 

Upon the return of the king the earls demanded of him 



ANCIENT SWINDON ii 

confirm that charter, but to add a clause to it 
by which it was provided that the nation should 
never in future be taxed without the consent of 
Parliament, a wise enactment which has secured 
the property of the subject against the rapacity 
of rulers, and also proved the foundation of 
England's wealth. All honour to the illustrious 
Humphrey Bohun. 

Wicklescote was then held under the manor 

a confirmation in person, to which after long hesitation he 
yielded. 

After this, and the death of Bohun in 1298, Bigod's 
power seems to have collapsed. 

1 301. He made the king his heir, and gave up his 
marshall's rod. 

1302. Surrendered his lands and title, receiving them 
back intail. 

A chronicler ascribes this surrender to a quarrel between 
Roger and his brother John. 

1306. Bigod died without issue, and in consequence 
of his surrender his dignities vested in the crown. 
He married twice : — 

1. Alina, daughter and co-heir of Philip Basset, chiet 

justiciar of England in 1261, and widow of Hugh 
le Despenser, chief justiciar of the barons. 

2. Alice, daughter of John of Hainault. 
Humphrey Bohun, fourth Earl of Hereford, son of Bigod's 

colleague, took an active part in opposing the Despensers 
and Edward H. He was killed at Boroughbridge, 1322. 
A Bohun held the Basset lands. — Dictiimmy of Natio7ial 
Biography. 



12 JEFFERIES' LAND 

of Wootton Bassett. Later, In the reign of 
Edward III., who occupied the throne from 
1327 to 1377, the Everards and Lovells were 
proprietors. A Katherine Lovell, seemingly 
in the reign of Henry IV. (1399 to 141 3), gave 
certain lands at Wicklescote to Lacock Abbey, 
which, at the dissolution of monasteries — which 
took place in the year 1535 — were bought by 
John Goddard, Esq., of Upper Upham. Sir 
Edward Darell, of Littlecote, near Hungerford, 
had lands here In the early part of the reign of 
Edward VI. John Wroughton had the manor 
in the seventh year of Henry VI., that is, 
in 1429. 

The manor of High Swindon was conferred 
by King Henry III. (reigned from 12 16 to 
1272) upon a relation of his, in fact, his half- 
brother, William de Valence, the celebrated 
Earl of Pembroke, of Goderich Castle. His 
son, Aylmer de Valence, held It in the year 
1323. Valence is a name familiar to the 
readers of Sir Walter Scott's novels. Aylmer 
de Valence, it will be remembered, is the hero 
or one of the principal characters in Castle 
Dangerous ; and is there represented as the 
nephew of the Earl of Pembroke. The widow 



ANCIENT SWINDON \y 

of Aylmer de Valence held the manor in 1377. 
She was known as Mary de St. Paul, Countess 
of Pembroke, and her memory has been per- 
petuated in consequence of her having founded 
Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. Aylmer de Val- 
ence having died without issue, part of the 
estate fell to the daughter of his sister, Eliza- 
beth Comyn. She married Richard, second 
baron Talbot of Goderich Castle, who thus 
became owner of this part of Swindon. The 
Talbots were a celebrated family. Shakes- 
peare has immortalised the name in one of his 
historical dramas. Later, in 1473, it belonged 
to John, Earl of Shrewsbury. At this date the 
manor was held under what was known as the 
Honor of Pont'large.^ At length, in the year 
1560, the estate was purchased by Thomas 
Goddard, Esq., of Upham, ancestor of the 
present owner, A. L. Goddard, Esq. 

Phillip x^venell had landed property at Swin- 
don in the time of Edward I. He held it 
under the Abbess of Wilton. The names of 
Avenell, Spilman, and Everard are found here 
about 13 16 A.D. 

1 Or Pont de I'Arche. 



14 JEFFERIES' LAND 

Olivia ^ Basset, wife of Hugh Despenser — a 
distinguished name — had an estate at Swindon 
in the seventh year of Edward I., that is, 
in 1279. The grandson^ of this OHvia Basset 
married Eleanor, co-heir of Gilbert de Clare, 
Earl of Gloucester.^ In the thirty-third year 
of the burly monarch, Henry the Eighth, a 
Wenman owned the estate known as Even 
Swindon. The Abbey of Malmesbury, the 
Monastery of Ivy church, and later, the Ever- 
ards and Alworths also held portions of these 
lands, which were originally in the hands 
of only five proprietors. The Wenman family 
seem to have purchased their property here 
about 1 54 1, or soon after the dissolution of 
monasteries. At the same time. Sir Thomas 
Bridges bought some lands at Swindon. He 
was the ancestor of the Duke of Chandos. In 
the days of the Virgin Queen Elizabeth the 
woods, "super Rectoriam," were purchased from 
the Crown by Thomas Stephens, of Burderop. 
The Viletts also held landed property at Swin- 



^ Her name is also given as Oliva, or Aliena. 

2 Hugh Despenser, junior 

3 Hence the " Coate of Clare." 



ANCIENT SWINDON 15 

don; the family is now (1866) represented by- 
Mrs. Rolleston, of the Square, Swindon. 

At the present day (1866) the largest landed 
proprietor of Swindon is A. L. Goddard, Esq. 
He also owns the estate known as Broome. 
This, in the reign of Edward I., belonged to 
the priory of Martigny. Afterwards, at the 
dissolution of the monasteries, it came into the 
possession of the Seymours, an ancient and 
widespread family. Later it descended through 
Katherine, the daughter of Charles, sixth Duke 
of Somerset, to the Wyndhams of the Egre- 
mont house ; from whom it was purchased by 
the present owner. When Aubrey, the wide- 
famed Wiltshire antiquarian, came to Swindon 
about two centuries ago, he seems to have 
visited Broome, since he alludes to it in the 
following passage : — 

'* Mem. — At Brome, near Swindon, in a 
pasture ground, near the house stands up a 
great stone, q. Sarsden,^ called Longstone, 
about 10 feet high, more or less, which I take 
to be the remayner of a Druidish Temple ; in 
the ground below are many stones in a right 
line, thus : O O O O O O O." 

^ The etymology of this word is uncertain. Aubrey 



i6 JEFFERIES' LAND 

The Stone seems to have disappeared, but to 
this day the field is known as Longstone field. 
There still remain a number of Sarsdens scat- 
tered about, but without any apparent attempt 
at order. A similar stone is said to have once 
stood in Burderop Park, about a mile further. 
Whether Aubrey was right or wrong in his 
conjecture concerning the Druidical origin of 
the assemblage of stones which he saw, it is 
now of course impossible to tell, unless some 
fortunate discovery should throw light upon the 
matter. It may be remarked that on the slope 
of the field known as Brud-hill — some say 

derives it from Sarsden (Cesar'sdene ?) a village three miles 
from Andover. Other suggestions are A. S. selstan = great 
stone. A. S. sar = grievous, stan = a stone. A. S. sesan = 
rocks. Sarsens or sarsdens are also known as grey wethers 
or Druid stones. — Hunter. 

Canon Jackson comments : "Of the great stones men- 
tioned by Aubrey none are now remaining." Mr. Morris 
says : " I resolved on finding out, if possible, what had 
become of 'the remayner of a Druidish Temple,' and after 
some years I was rewarded for my trouble by making the 
discovery that the stones were actually sold to the Way- 
wardens of Cricklade, and removed to that town, where they 
were broken up and used to make good the pitching in the 
streets. ... If this was the use the Swindonians of old 
were prepared to make of 'the remayner of a Druidish 
Temple,' the world at large may feel thankful that they had 
no control over Stonehenge and Avebury." 



ANCIENT SWINDON 17 

Blood-hill, a name that would indicate fighting 
— adjoining the Park at Swindon, there is 
beside the footpath, a similar row of Sarsden 
stones to those seen at Broome by Aubrey, 
though these are much sunk in the earth. 

The extent of Swindon, both during the 
Saxon times and for centuries after, was in 
all probability inconsiderable, that is, as a town. 
There were probably a few great mansions 
scattered here and there, the residences of the 
tenants under the great families, who from 
time to time owned the adjacent estates ; and 
near these the cottages of the labourers. The 
remains still existing of this period are so very 
inconsiderable that it is next to impossible to 
found even a probable conjecture upon them. 
A few years ago what was considered a Saxon 
arch or doorway was discovered in a cellar in 
High Street, and whilst making some excava- 
tions in the New Road, it was stated that the 
workmen came upon a Saxon pillar. Remains 
such as these must ever be liable to suspicion, 
there being no corroborative testimony in the 
shape of coins or similar articles. Saxon 
Swindon seems to have entirely disappeared ; 
nor has Norman Swindon met with any better 

c 



1 8 JEFFERIES' LAND 

fate. Mediaeval Swindon, may, perhaps, in a 
certain sense, remain in a few scattered carvings 
of no importance, but even these are doubtful. 
It was not until Thomas Goddard, Esq., of 
Upham, purchased the Swindon estate in 1560 
that the place emerged from obscurity. The 
Goddards then became the principal pro- 
prietors, and the leading family of the town, 
and have remained so ever since — through a 
period of three centuries. 

Even during the Civil Wars Swindon seems 
to have in a general sense escaped notice. 
Both the Parliamentary forces and those of the 
King must have marched within a few miles 
of the place, if they did not pass through ; at 
any rate it is not improbable that a detachment 
came here. Just before the first battle of New- 
bury, which took place in 1644, ^he Earl of 
Essex fell back before the King from Tewkes- 
bury, surprised a Royalist garrison at Ciren- 
cester, and, continues Lord Clarendon, the 
historian of the war : "From hence the Earl, 
having no farther apprehension of the king's 
horse, which he had no mind to encounter upon 
the open campagne, and being at the least 
twenty miles before him, by easy marches, that 




? I 
s: 



Z ^ 



H 



ANCIENT SWINDON 19 

his sick and wearied soldiers might overtake 
him, moved through that deep and enclosed 
country, North Wiltshire, his direct way to 
London," closely pursued by the King and 
Prince Rupert, who came up with the enemy 
about seven miles from Swindon, and an 
action ensued, which turned out in favour of 
the Royalists. If Swindon ever became the 
scene of civil contention it was probably when 
the two hostile armies passed by at such a small 
distance. Some few years since, while making 
excavations in the middle of Wood Street, just 
opposite Mr. Chandler's, the workmen came 
upon a number of human bones, amongst them 
a fine skull, which was preserved. A similar 
discovery was made in Cricklade Street. 
These remains may have had some connection 
with those unhappy times when England was 
divided against itself, but of course this is no 
more than a conjecture. 

Shortly after the Civil War came to an 
end, Aubrey, the Wiltshire antiquary, visited 
Swindon, and has left the following cursory 
memorandum of Its condition at that date : — 

" Swindon. This towne probably Is so 
called, quasi Swine-Down, for It Is situated on 



20 JEFFERIES' LAND 

a hill or downe, as well as many other places, 
viz., Horseley, Cow-ton, Sheep-ton, etc., take 
their names from other animals. It is famous 
for the Ouarrie, which is neer the Towne, of 
that excellent paveing stone, which is not in- 
ferior to the Purbec Grubbes, but whiter, and 
will take a little polish ; they send it to London ; 
it is a white stone ; it was not discovered until 
about thirty years agon : and I am now writing 
in 1672 : yet it lies not above 4 or 5 foot 
deep. Here is on Munday every weeke a 
gallant Market for Cattle which encreased to 
its now greatness upon the plague at High- 
worth, about 20 years since. 

" Here, at High worth, and so at Oxford, the 
poore people, etc., gather the cow-shorne in the 
meadows and pastures and mix it with hay, and 
strawe, and clap it against the walles for ollit ; 
they say 'tis good ollit, i.e., fuell : they call it 
Compas, they meane I suppose. Compost. All 
the soil hereabout is a rich lome of a darke haire 
colour." 

It will be observed that Aubrey gives 
Swindon anything but a dignified origin. 
Aubrey, however, is by no means an infallible 
authority. Though an earnest, painstaking, 



ANCIENT SWINDON 21 

and often most intelligent antiquarian, he 
often displays a childishness — a gossiping dis- 
position similar to that which made him labour 
so hard at the collection of ghost stories — 
which led him to adopt the first thought that 
occurred, without investigation, and to take up 
time and paper, in recording little peculiarities, 
like that of the '*cow-shorne," which would 
have been much more usefully expended in 
giving an account of the condition of the place 
itself. Swine are not fed as a rule upon 
downs ; ^ when herds of swine were kept their 
chief haunts were the forest, — the boar's native 
home — where acorns, beech masts, and roots, 
can be found in abundance. Nor, although in 
later times Swindon has become celebrated for 
its pig market, could such a circumstance be 
regarded as having given rise to its name, for 
the simple reason that the market w^as not held 
until the middle of the seventeenth century, 
and the place is registered as Swindon "" in 
Domesday Book, compiled towards the end of 

^ Mr. Jackson also questions Aubrey's derivation : A 
down is not suitable for fattening swine. More likely 
named from some owner, a Saxon or Danish " Sweyne," a 
name still well known in the county. 

^ Svindone or Svindune. 



22 JEFFERIES' LAND 

the eleventh century. Aubrey was probably 
misled by the sound. Swindon certainly does 
bear an affinity to Swine-don, when pronounced 
with the i long. There does not appear any 
other ground whatever for the conjecture, nor 
can this ground be admitted. Sweyn-dune is a 
far more reasonable conjecture. 

Even at that date it seems Swindon was 
famous for its quarries. The stone was even 
sent to London. It may be remarked that the 
spring of water known as the Wroughton 
spring, It being just out of the town on the 
Wroughton road, was discovered upon making 
some excavations in search of stone in the 
adjoining field ; it is said not much over a 
century since. It is only necessary to take a 
glance at these quarries to see to what a won- 
derful extent they have been worked since their 
discovery some 200 years ago — a good and in- 
disputable testimony to the quality of the stone. 
A few years back an interesting discovery to 
geologists was made in that quarry known as 
Tarrant's. It was a stem of a tree fossilized. 
Scarcely a mantlepiece in the town that was not 
furnished forthwith with a piece of this fossil 
tree, so great was the curiosity awakened by the 



ANCIENT SWINDON 23 

discovery, yet so much larger was the supply 
than the demand, that two large logs, if such 
an expression may be used, still remain in Mr. 
Tarrant's yard. Sands, visible to all passers-by. 

The '* gallant Market " to which Aubrey 
refers, still continues to be held, though under 
very different auspices to those beneath which 
it was then conducted. A magnificent building 
now shelters corn dealers from the inclemencies 
of the weather, while in a short time cattle 
will be accommodated immediately without the 
town. It appears from these cursory notes of 
Aubrey that there was a cattle plague in the 
country to ruin and intimidate farmers two 
hundred years ago as well as now, or rather as 
two years since. The market was held on the 
same day then as now — Monday. This market 
owes its existence to Thomas Goddard, a de- 
scendant of the one who purchased the estate 
at Swindon in 1560. Thomas Goddard, Esq., 
obtained a charter ^ to hold a weekly market, 
and two fairs yearly in 1627, which said mar- 
kets and fairs have been duly observed since in 
the Square, Swindon. The custom to which 

^ This charter was printed in the Swindon Advertiser^ 
1 2th September, 1859. 



24 JEFFERIES' LAND 



Aubrey refers with respect to '' cow-shorne " at 
High worth — if he means that it was used as 



fuel — is remarkable in one way, since a some- 
what similar one obtains in Palestine, according 
to travellers — it might there be termed camel- 
shorne. 

"■ What's one's bane is another's blessing," 
says the old proverb. The plague which 
harassed High worth proved beneficial to 
Swindon, which seems to have escaped the 
ravages of the cattle disease as well in the 
seventeenth century as in the nineteenth. It 
would be interesting to learn the symptoms of 
that cattle disease which overran the country 
in the seventeenth century in order to compare 
it with that which so lately assumed so threaten- 
ing an aspect. The market, established in 1627 
by Thomas Goddard, Esq., was probably the 
making of Swindon. Henceforward it became 
indisputably a town. He seems to have been 
the only man in a course of eight centuries who 
showed anything approaching public spirit to- 
wards the place. The Goddard family very 

^ Shard or shorn, by some thought to be the derivation of 
Shakespeare's "shard-born beetle": /.<?. bred in shard or 
dung \MacbetK\ (Jackson). 



ANCIENT SWINDON 25 

early had a connection of some sort with 
Swindon. The name is said to be found in 
deeds relating to the parish so far back as the 
year 1404 — over four centuries ago. They 
have been magistrates and members of Parlia- 
ment for many generations. 

The few preceding facts have been almost all 
that it has been found possible to gather, which 
in any way throw light upon the ancient state 
of Swindon. It is from them, and from their 
scarcity, very evident that the place was in old 
times of very little importance as a town. 
These facts, however few and meagre, are, it is 
probable, all that will ever be found. Swindon, 
it must be recollected, never boasted a mon- 
astery, nor was it ever made into a corporate 
town. Many places which were once of im- 
portance sufficient to render a corporation 
necessary — such as Wootton Bassett — are now 
declining, or at a standstill, whilst Swindon, less 
favoured in days gone by, is rapidly expanding 
and developing its resources. Still, however 
modern may be its importance, a town that can 
date from before the Conquest — back to the 
days of the Danes and the famous Sweyn, can 
never be despised in point of antiquity. 



CHAPTER II 

HOLY ROOD CHURCH 

ALTHOUGH Swindon had no monastery, 
yet it had a church from the earliest 
times, known as Holy rood, or more familiarly 
spoken of as the " Old Church " to distinguish 
it from the new ; for Holy rood, as a place of 
worship, is a thing of bygone days. The bells 
are silent, the belfry itself has disappeared, and 
of the body of the church, only the chancel and 
two ancient ivy-covered arches remain. There 
were no literary monks at Swindon in the 
mediaeval ages to leave behind them a curious 
chronicle for the learned of to-day to decipher 
— letter by letter and sentence by sentence — 
but there is the churchyard record with its 
ever-open pages, all saying the same thing, 
though in so many different ways ; tombstones 
and tablets with many a tale of times gone by 
traced upon them. Here are no gaily-deco- 
rated manuscripts, but here is the handwriting of 

26 




■ 



'■J 
at 



O 
O 






HOLY ROOD CHURCH 27 

death, and its emblazonry of cross-bones, urns, 
and praying figures. Not a step can be taken 
through this ancient churchyard that does not 
tread upon those who have lived and died, and 
disappeared ; scarce a turf can be turned with- 
out bringing to light the melancholy and moul- 
dering remains of mortality. Here the awful 
line of the poet Young is literally true — 

" Where is the dust that has not been aHve ? " 

Look at the rank, tall grass, damp even at 
noonday ; its roots are nourished by that v/hich 
once gaily trod the grass of its day under foot. 
Look at the dark green moss upon the tomb- 
stones — shortly it will fill up and hide the last 
memorial of those who lie beneath ; others 
there are which have sunk out of sight in the 
same earth which received those they were in- 
tended to commemorate — such is the end of 
man. Even the graven stone cannot perpetu- 
ate his memory — he dies, and his place knows 
him no more. Verily this is the home of the 
dead. 

Why did our ancestors erect their sacred 
buildings so near their mansions ? Here is the 
churchyard actually coming up to the very wall 



28 JEFFERIES' LAND 

of the house. The same thing may be ob- 
served at Lydlard Tregoze, the seat of Lord 
Bolingbroke, where the church and the manor 
house almost touch. Probably priestly influ- 
ence had something to do with it — the present 
generation would scarcely be gratified with the 
view of funerals being conducted beneath their 
very windows. To-day men appear to endea- 
vour to become fearless of death by placing it 
out of sight, rather than by familiarising them- 
selves with its accompaniments — probably on 
the theory that familiarity breeds contempt. 
The appearance of Holyrood Church, so far as 
it is possible to judge from descriptions and 
drawings, must have been very venerable, 
though it had not the slightest pretension to 
architectural beauty. The tower, which was 
square and dwarfed, as if left unfinished, and 
much overgrown with ivy, stood at the western 
end and opposite the chancel. On the northern ^ 

side was a kind of transept. The pillars which 
supported the nave are of a rather unusual 
shape, sexagonal. The two arches which re- 
main have a very ancient appearance, increased 
by the ivy which encircles them. That portion 
which has been preserved is simply the chan- 



HOLYROOD CHURCH 29 

eel. It originally was in the possession of the 
Rolleston family, who were under an obligation 
to keep it in repair, but upon the demolition 
of the ancient edifice and the completion of 
Christ Church — the present place of worship — 
they transferred their rights to the new build- 
ing, and the parish undertook the charge of 
maintaining the old church. The old church 
having been found inadequate to accommodate 
the constantly increasing population of Swin- 
don, it was proposed to enlarge and restore it, 
and the committee appointed for that purpose 
had agreed to recommend to the parish the 
adoption of a design by the celebrated architect, 
Mr. Gilbert Scott, for that purpose. The late 
Mr. Goddard, however, offering a new site,^ 
and his son, Mr. A. L. Goddard, promising a 
donation ^ towards the building, the parish, at a 
vestry meeting, decided to erect a new church 
on another site. The donation of Mr. Goddard 
formed the nucleus of a building fund, the liber- 
ality of the parishioners and the indefatigable 
exertions of the Rev. H. G. Baily, the vicar, 
among his friends, providing the remainder of 

^ This included ground for a new churchyard. 
2 ^100. 



30 JEFFERIES' LAND 

the money. The total cost of the church was 
^8,000. Mr. Baily^ worked with great energy, 
and he had a large share in obtaining for his 
parish the beautiful edifice known as Christ 
Church.^ The Diocesan Society of that day 
refused any grant because the living was not in 
the patronage of the bishop, and the Incorpo- 
rated Church Building Society were only able 
to give £\yz>. The materials of the old church, 
save the chancel, which was preserved, were 
sold to assist the fund for erecting the new 
edifice. The bells (the tenor was cracked and 
re-cast) were removed to the new church, and 
are those now in the Parish Church. 

Holy rood was not the original designation 
of the church. In the fourteenth century — and 
very early in it, 1 302 — it was dedicated to St. 
Mary. About fifty years after this date, or in 
the year 1359, the vicarage was first endowed. 
The monastery of Wallingford had a certain 
interest in the place, the monks having a pen- 
sion, which was taken out of the rectorial tithes. 
Before the dissolution of monasteries — that 

^ The Rev. H. G. Baily, after nearly forty years' work in 
Swindon, accepted the Rectory of Lydiard Tregoze, in the 
gift of Lord Bolingbroke. ^ 1850. 



HOLYROOD CHURCH 31 

great blow which was dealt in 1535 to the 
Roman Catholic religion — the Priory of St. 
Mary, Southwick, had the rectory. Hence it 
will be seen that although no monastery was 
ever in existence at Swindon, it had, through 
its church, connection with several of those 
great nurseries of the Catholic faith. The 
Abbey of Malmesbury, the Nunnery of Wilton, 
the Monastery of Ivychurch, near Sarum or 
Salisbury, the Monastery of Wallingford, and 
lastly the Priory of Southwick, had all, to a 
more or less degree, some interest in Swindon, 
whose ancient inhabitants were therefore doubt- 
less well acquainted with the cowl and its cus- 
toms. It may be remarked that after a lapse 
of many centuries the Catholic faith has once 
again begun to make headway in Swindon as 
well as in other localities — there beino- a Roman 
Catholic chapel in Bridge Street, New Swindon, 
which is quite a modern erection. England 
is beginning to feel the effects of universal 
toleration — a great problem which is working 
itself out around us, and has in America arrived 
at such startling developments.^ 

^ It must be remembered that this was written in 1867, 
soon after the Civil War. 



32 JEFFERIES' LAND 

After the dissolution of the monasteries, the 
rectory fell, about the year 1560, into the hands 
of the Stephen family, then resident at Burderop. 
It continued in their hands until 1584, when it 
was purchased from them by the Vilett family. 

At least one distinguished man has been 
Vicar of Swindon. This was no less a person 
than Narcissus Marsh, who afterwards became 
Archbishop of Armagh.^ He does not appear, 
however, to have been a vicar for a longer 
period than one year, which was 1662. Swin- 
don has not been noticeable as a prolific place 
for remarkable men.^ It certainly never had 
the chance which other places had. There 
was no monastery to collect or focus the learn- 
ing and ability of the neighbourhood. Let not 
then the soil of Swindon be despised on that 
account. " Blame the culture, not the soil," as 
Horace puts it. The non-existence of a mon- 
astery cannot be too much lamented by the 
antiquarian.^ 

1 Canon Jackson notes : " In the list of Vicars are three 
pecuHar names — Milo King, Aristotle Webbe, and Narcis- 
sus Marsh." 

^ Richard Jefferies himself appears the only literary man 
of note produced in this locality. (Ed.) 

^ In his interesting Swindon Fifty Years Ago, Mr. Wil- 



HOLYROOD CHURCH 33 

Holyrood Church must have seen some 
strange changes in that long course of five 
hundred years. Could the stones speak, what 
stories might they not tell of times gone by — 
of armed men, of the knights who fought in 
the Wars of the Roses ; later, of the quaintly 
cut beards and curiously slashed garments of 
Queen Elizabeth's reign ; of the careless cava- 
liers of King Charles's days ; of monks and 
mass superseded by surpliced clergymen and 
their comparatively modern service. The bells 
— what changes they must have rung : 

"For full five hundred years I've swung 
In my old gray turret high, 
And many a changing theme I've rung 
As the time went stealing by " 

might have been traced upon them. But the 
stones are dumb, save the records of the dead ; 
the bells are no longer heard, the belfry is 
down. The jackdaws have lost their building 



liam Morris devotes two chapters to local " Worthies," 
amongst whom are Dr. G. A. Mantell, Mr. James Strange, 
William Pike, etc. But as, with the exception of Robert 
Sadler, they are literally local worthies, they need not be 
enumerated here, as Jefferies' statement is at present irre- 
futable. 

D 



34 JEFFERIES' LAND 

place, though they still remain in numbers in 
the neighbourhood, and may be seen any day 
in the adjacent park. There was a very 
general feeling of regret when the old place 
was discovered to be doomed. '* I have com- 
pleted a monument more lasting than marble, 
more durable than brass," sang Horace on 
finishing a book, and his words have been 
fulfilled. So, though Holyrood has gone, 
there yet remains a record, slight and scanty, 
but still a record, written upon that apparently 
most perishable material, paper. Aubrey, who 
has already been referred to as visiting Swin- 
don about two centuries ago, did not forget 
the church. Here is his memoranda con- 
cerning it : — 

*' Church. In the church is nothing observ- 
able left in the windowes except in the first, 
on the south side of the chancell, viz., the 
coate of Clare. This cross is on a tombe 
about a foote higher than the pavement on 

the north side of the aisle, belonging to 

Goddard, Esq. ... In the same aisle, 
beneath his picture, was buried, aged 25, 
1 64 1, Thomas Goddard, Esq., husband of 
Jane, daughter to Edmund Fettiplace, Knight, 



HOLY ROOD CHURCH 35 

his coate thus, Goddard (diagram). Somebody 
is buried by. I suppose his wife, but the in- 
scription is not legible. This on an old free- 
stone in the chancell, now worne out, Grubbe 
of Poterne (sinister). Also Stephens of Bur- 
thorp. The same in other colours and metalls. 
Near this lye buried two children of William 
Levet, Esq. They were buried 1667. 

" This under the altar, viz : '' Here lieth the 
body of Thomas Vilett, Gent. He departed 
this life the 6th day of November, 1667. On 
both sides lye buried his two wives.' . 

'' At the upper end of the church this in- 
scription : ' Christus, qui mortuus est ut per 
mortem suam superans mortem triumpharet, 
a mortuis ad vivos exsuscitabit. Buried the 
5th of June, An. Dom. 16 10, the body of 
Elenor Huchens, the wife of Thomas Huchens 
of Ricaston. Shee to this parish twenty pound 
gave to the relief of the poore, the use for 
ever. James Lord, and Henry Cus, her hus- 
bands, twenty pounds each of them gave to 
the poore of this parish, the use for ever.' 

" This in the chancell : * Hie jacet Henricus 
Alworth in hac viclnia natus, qui adolescentiam 
in Schola Wintoniensi juventutem in Academia 



36 JEFFERIES' LAND 

OxonlensI senectutem in Patria Wiltonlensi, 
fellciter consecravit, ubique, caste, sobrie, pie, 
sibi parcus, suis, beneficus, egenis effusus, ab 
omnibus desideratus, Obijt XVI die Augusti 
1669 T^tatis suae 75.' " 

The first remark that Aubrey makes is, that 
there was in his time but Httle left in the 
windows — by the use of which expression he 
would seem to intimate that there once had 
been something in them. Now the date at 
which he passed through Swindon was but a 
short time after the conclusion of the Civil 
War, and it is well known that the soldiers 
of Cromwell's army had a great fancy for 
smashing everything which in their diseased 
and heated imaginations they conceived to 
bear what was called " the mark of the 
beast," that is, to savour of Rome. Like the 
iconoclasts of the continent they had a mad 
hatred of anything approaching an image. 
May it not then be reasonably conjectured 
that the Parliamentarian soldiers destroyed 
whatsoever they possibly could in a hasty 
visit to Swindon — such as might have occurred 
when the army of Essex passed through North 
Wilts in 1644? Aubrey himself, if we re- 



HOLYROOD CHURCH 37 

member aright, mentions In another part of 
his work that such had been their conduct at 
Bishopstone church — perhaps five miles from 
Swindon — where they had smashed the stained 
glass, and left nothing for him to copy. Why 
may not the same thing have happened at 
Swindon ? The windows themselves have 
gone since Aubrey's time, saving one which 
remains at the eastern extremity of the chancel, 
in which there is a little, but a very little, 
stained glass/ 

It was the custom of the Roundheads to 
stable their horses in the old buildings which 
had once witnessed the celebration of mass — 
it is to be hoped no such desecration ever 
occurred in Holy rood. 

Aubrey observed the ** coate of Clare," that 
is, the arms of that house, in the first window 
on the south side of the chancel. In the time 
of Edward I., about 1279, one Olivia Bassett, 
as has been already mentioned, held lands at 
Swindon ; and her grandson formed a matri- 
monial alliance with Eleanor, the co-heiress of 

^ Jefferies here, somewhat inconsistently, gives credence 
to the current traditions of Roundhead irreverence — the 
Parliamentarian army acting as a convenient scapegoat for 
the sacrilegious acts of contemporaries. 



3S JEFFERIES' LAND 

Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, which 
perhaps may in some way throw light upon 
this " coate of Clare " which Aubrey saw/ 
'' Stephens of Burthorp " would mean Stephens 
of Burderop. Burderop is understood, like 
Swindon, to have been named by the Danes, 
thorp being a Danish word for village. This 
lends strength to the supposition that Swindon 
was named from Sweyn, since it shows that 
the Danes had settlements in the neighbour- 
hood. Levet — two children of which name 
Aubrey found were buried here 1667 — is an 
ancient name, and persons of that designation 
long had some connection with the place. It 
is said that the name Levet or Leviet occurs 
in the Domesday Survey of Swindon. Al- 
worth is also an ancient name, and one early 
found here. The Viletts then, as now, occu- 
pied the chancel. It may be observed that 
Aubrey gives no inscriptions whatever earlier 
than the century in which he lived — that is, 
dated before the commencement of the seven- 
teenth century. Between 1 600 and 1 700 there 
are numerous interments commemorated with 
a tombstone and inscription, but earlier than 

^ See chap, i., p. 14. 



HOLYROOD CHURCH 39 

that there does not appear to be any. Those 
that Aubrey copied, though ancient now, were 
most of them modern in his time, two hun- 
dred years ago, yet the church has been in 
existence full five hundred years. The truth 
would appear to be that it is only within the 
last two centuries and a half that Swindon 
has become the residence of persons wealthy 
enough to commemorate their losses by the 
aid of the engraver's expensive art. Such 
men as Odin the Chamberlain, the Bishop of 
Bayeux, the Earl of Pembroke, the Earl of 
Shaftesbury, the Talbots, and the Darells of 
Littlecot, no doubt had their family vaults 
elsewhere ; and with the solitary exception of 
the " coate of Clare" not a memorial of the 
noble families once connected with Swindon 
seems to remain in the place. After 1560, 
when the estate came into the Goddard family, 
and the adjoining mansion became the resi- 
dence of the owners, the church was made the 
sepulchre of persons whose memory was per- 
petuated by tombs and inscriptions. 

The dimensions of the old church were as 
follows : The tower was in length 1 8 feet 2 
inches, the nave 60 feet i inch, the chancel 31 



40 JEFFERIES' LAND 

feet 6 Inches, altogether 109 feet 9 Inches. 
The breadth of the north aisle was 16 feet 5 
Inches, the nave 21 feet 5 inches, and the south- 
aisle also 16 feet 5 Inches, making a total 
breadth of 54 feet 3 Inches, while the height 
of the nave was 30 feet. It was, therefore, a 
structure of some considerable size. The body 
of the church, which has now disappeared, 
contained a number of tablets, some near the 
pillars, others around the walls. Those adja- 
cent to the three pillars of the south aisle were 
In memory of William Harding, 1821 ; Gulle- 
lim Home, 1730; Hannah Nobes, 1807; Rev. 
John Neate, 1719; James Bradford, 1829; and 
the Rev. Edmund Goodenough, 1807. Upon 
and within the south wall of the church were 
affixed the following : To John Skull, 1755 ; 
Edmund Goddard, 1776; Joseph Randall, 
1768; Millicent Neate, 1764; and Thomas 
Goddard Vilett, 18 17. On or near to the 
pillars of the north aisle were originally affixed 
monuments to Elizabeth Slack, 1789 ; Rev. 
John William Aubrey, 1806 ; Mary Broadway, 
1747; Francis Miles, 1834; Richard Wayt, 
1746 ; Ann Yorke, 1807 ; John Smith, 1775 ; 
and Henry Herring, 1767. Adjacent to the 



HOLYROOD CHURCH 41 

wall upon the north side were tablets to John 
Goddard, 1678; Richard Goddard, 1732; 
Ambrose Goddard, 181 5 ; Gulielim Gallimore, 
1697; Thomas Wayt, 1753; Hann^e Tubb, 
1756; and Elizabeth Evans, 1763. These 
were carefully removed upon the destruction 
of the building, and the majority of them are 
still to be seen preserved in the chancel. 

The stone-paved walk from the Planks up to 
the chancel is in a great measure composed of 
gravestones. One may be observed upon the 
right hand immediately before the entrance, 
upon which there is cut a simple cross without 
inscription or date that can be seen — which is 
perhaps even more suitable than a fulsome epi- 
taph contradicting its own purpose by a super- 
abundance of adjectives. The chancel is at 
present almost completely full of tablets and 
other monuments of the dead, many having 
been removed here from the body of the 
church. Over the high arched doorway with- 
in may be seen several gloomy hatchments, 
the monuments of departed greatness, with 
the usual inscriptions, such as '* Resurgam." 
Against the wall leans the royal arms detached 
from its original position ; while upon the ele- 



42 JEFFERIES' LAND 

vatlon afforded by the steps which once ap- 
proached the altar stand the unused reading- 
desk and carved communion table. The air is 
damp and cold, the light dim and gloomy — it is 
silent, deserted, a fit resting-place for the dead, 
or for meditation. Here no longer is heard 
the voice of the warning preacher, no longer 
rises the hymn of thanksgiving, no longer is 
received the cup of commemoration ; it is a 
place of tradition, the dwelling-place of the 
spirit of the past. A church must ever be a 
place of gloom to the majority of mankind, but 
a church which is deserted has its gloom deep- 
ened tenfold. It seems as though men had 
deserted that hope with which they formerly 
reinvigorated themselves within it. 

At the east end, beneath the window, is the 
following inscription upon a stone let in even 
with the pavement : " Here lieth the body of 
Anne Vilett, wife of Thomas Vilett, gent, and 
daughter of Edmund Webb, of Rodbourne, 
Esqure, who departed this life December 6, 
1643. Her age 54. She had living of eight 
children only one." The arrangement of the 
inscription upon this stone, as well as upon 
the two following. Is peculiar, and at first sight 



HOLY ROOD CHURCH 43 

hardly intelligible ; the graver would seem to 
have been at a loss how to cut out what he 
was required without crowding, The stone 
close by has the following inscription : " Here 
lieth the body of Thomas Vilett, gent. Hee 
departed this life the 6th day of November 
1667 ; also Captn. John, son of ye Sd. Ths. 
Vilett, who died March ye 17, 1700, aged 70 
years." The first part of this inscription is the 
same as that which Aubrey saw and copied 
when he visited this place two centuries since ; 
that relating to the son, Captain John, has 
been added since his time. The third stone 
is in memory of Thomas Vilett's second wife, 
whose memory is preserved in these words : 
*'Aug, 24, 1650, was buried Martha, second 
wife of Thomas Vilett, gent., and daughter 
of Thomas Goddard Esqure. She had three 
children livinge." All three of these stones, 
besides the inscriptions, have devices graven 
upon them. On the south wall of the church is 
a monument to three sisters : Mary, widow of 
John Broadway, whilom Vicar of the parish, 
died Jan. 7, 1747, leaving ^20 yearly to the 
poor of the Parish ; Dorothy Brind died 1 748 ; 
and Margaret Brind died the same year, leav- 



44 JEFFERIES' LAND 

ing ;^ioo to the poor of the parish. A tablet 
on the same wall records some benefactions, of 
the interest of ;^ioo, given by one Home; 
Joseph Cooper in 1790 gave some lands at 
Stratton St. Margaret, in lieu of and augmen- 
tation of the same. Near this is a very ancient 
and curious tablet which was seen and copied 
by Aubrey, but the peculiar spelling of which 
renders it sufficiently interesting to be copied 
verbatim. It runs thus : '' Bvryed 5 of Ivne, 
the body of Elenor Hvchens the wife of 
Thomas Hvchens of Ricaston. Shee of this 
parish : 20 povnds gave to the releefe of the 
poor, the vse for ever. James Lorde and 
Henry Cvs her hvsbandt, 20 povnd each of 
them gave to the poor of this parish the vse 
for ever" (v. page 35). 

On the north wall there is a small tablet to 
the memory of Elizabeth Evans, dated 1763, 
which appears to have once stood in the body 
of the church. The inscription contains a 
memorandum of a rather singular gift, yet no 
doubt very acceptable to the recipients : '* By 
her will bearing date IX day of May 1763 she 
bequeathed ^50 to repair pews of this Church 
and also the interest of ^70 to purchase six 



HOLYROOD CHURCH 45 

gowns to be given yearly in St Thomas' day 
to six poor women inhabitants of this parish, 
whose age shall exceed 60 years." The Vilett 
family appear to have occupied the chancel ; 
the Goddard vaults are immediately without 
the remaining portion of the building, on the 
north side between it and the mansion. The 
number of interments is evident from the large 
space covered by the stones, one of which has 
graven upon it a curious figure, apparently of a 
person in a long robe, praying. The following 
is an inscription upon a tablet erected in 1838 : 
** Near this place lie the remains of Ambrose 
Goddard, Esq., and of Sarah Marva, his wife. 
They lived nearly forty years in the adjacent 
mansion, happy in the love of each other, and 
in promoting the happiness of all around them, 
though severely tried by the loss of many of a 
numerous family. He represented the county 
of Wilts in Parliament 35 years, honestly and 
faithfully, seeking no reward but the testimony 
of his own conscience and the esteem of his 
constituents. His wife was highly gifted, and 
a bright example of Christian grace. They 
both endeavoured to serve God, by doing good 
to man. Through the merits of Christ may 



46 JEFFERIES' LAND 

their services be accepted, and their happiness 
protracted in a blessed eternity." 

*'A. Goddard, died June, 1815, S. M. God- 
dard, April, 1818. This tablet was erected by 
their few surviving children as a memorial of 
their gratitude and affection." 

The Goddards have now sat in Parliament 
over half a century. It has been remarked of 
the present head of that family that he is never 
absent when there is any likelihood of a divi- 
sion to require his vote. Their policy has ever 
been a consistent Conservatism. 

One of the tablets originally upon the north 
wall of the body of the church exhibited the 
following inscription : " Here lieth the body of 
John Goddard, gent, died December, 1678." 
This one may still be seen. It is in memory 
of John Vilett, Esqr. : '' Deo optimo maximo. 
Hoc Sacravium instauravit et exoruavit 
Johannes Vilett armiger, a.d. 1736." 

Another was in memory of Thos. Smyth, 
D.D., died 1790, aged 86; of whom it was 
recorded that he was vicar of the parish ; also 
to Mrs. Jane Smyth, who died in 1787 at the 
age of 74 ; they having lived happily together 
for a period of nearly half a century. But the 



HOLY ROOD CHURCH 47 

most extraordinary monument is that in 
memory of one William Noad, and his four 
wives. Hannah, his first, died in 1733, aged 
28 years ; Hannah H., died in 1741, aged 29 ; 
Martha, the third, died 1766, at the age of 62 ; 
Ann, the fourth, died in 1776, aged 54 years; 
and finally, William Noad died himself in the 
year 1781, aged 70. This Noad, one might 
imagine, was a Mahommedan at least, since he 
managed to have the solacement of as many 
wives as is allowed by the Koran to the fol- 
lowers of the prophet, and a clever fellow, too, 
to steer clear of bigamy. Four wives — this is 
the ''Wife of Bath" reversed. If any one 
understood what matrimonial life is, one would 
think this Noad must have done so. What a 
pity he did not write his memoirs for the guid- 
ance of future husbands ! He died at length at 
the allotted age of man — three score years and 
ten — which fact shows what may be done in a 
lifetime. Noad must have known a ofood deal 
about womankind. His occupation in life was 
that of clerk of the parish. Altogether William 
Noad may be regarded as one of the most 
extraordinary men Swindon ever produced. It 
does not seem recorded that any such feat was 



48 JEFFERIES' LAND 

ever performed before or after. Probably we 
shall never see his like again. Peace be to his 
ashes, for it is to be feared he had little during 
his lifetime. 

The office of clerk of the parish seems to 
have been for a long time hereditary in the 
Noad family. William Noad comes first, 
dying 1781 ; Henry Noad occupied the same 
post in 1752 ; another Henry Noad, in 1790, 
and a third Henry Noad vacated the office by 
death in 1848. This last Henry Noad is 
recorded to have held it for the extraordinary 
term of 57 years, or over half a century. What 
births, marriages, and deaths he must have 
recorded — the population of the place would in 
that time be almost entirely changed, a genera- 
tion would pass away and another spring up, 
and he, clerk still, apparently stationary. The 
Noad family has been rather a remarkable one. 
The name is still known in Swindon. Cooper 
Noad, of Newport Street, makes good barrels, 
and challenges the world to produce better. 
All honour to the name of Noad ! 

Swindon seems to be a remarkably healthy 
situation, since some of the inhabitants have 
reached ages which might fairly be put into 



HOLY ROOD CHURCH 49 

comparison with those of more widely-renowned 
places. Henry Noad just referred to was clerk 
for 57 years, and there lie in Holyrood church- 
yard the remains of four persons, who, with 
another of the same, only lately [1867], de- 
ceased, have not inaptly been designated the 
Five Patriarchs. The name of this remark- 
able assemblage of aged persons was Weekes. 
Thomas Weekes died in 1829, at the age of 91 
years. Hannah Weekes, who departed this 
life in 1826, reached 82. Ed. Weekes, died 
1 82 1, aged Z^. Susan in 1820, also 83 years 
of age ; while John Weekes, died 1866, reached 
the truly patriarchal age of 92 years. The sum 
of the lives of these five persons — all of whom, 
let it be observed, have died in the nineteenth 
century, and therefore it cannot be supposed 
that the virtue of Swindon air was better in the 
olden times than now — the sum amounts to 
433 years ! Eighty and six years was the 
average age of this remarkable family. Nor 
are they single examples of the remarkable 
longevity attained by the inhabitants of Swin- 
don. A lady of the name of Read (deceased 
during the present year) was, if we remember 
rightly, 91 years of age. Her remains were 

£ 



50 JEFFERIES' LAND 

Interred at Wroughton. Mr. Shepherd, still 
living [1867], is another example — his age is 
90. Mr. J. Jefferies has reached his eighty- 
fourth year. On the whole, Swindon can 
furnish examples of longevity which may 
challenge, if not defy, competition. 



CHAPTER III 

SWINDON IN 1867 1 

WHENEVER a man Imbued with re- 
publican politics and progressionist 
views, ascends the platform and delivers an 
oration, It Is a safe wager that he makes some 
allusion at least to Chicago, the famous mush- 
room city of the United States, which sprang 
up in a night, and thirty years ago consisted 
of a dozen miserable fishermen's huts, and now 
counts over two hundred thousand inhabitants. 
Chicago ! Chicago ! look at Chicago ! and see 
in Its development the vigour which Invariably 
follows republican institutions. This is con- 
founding the effect with the cause. The 
hundreds of thousands of American emigrants 

^ Readers are reminded that this chapter has been left as 
Jefferies wrote it, as, if it had been brought up to date, 
much of the original matter must have been omitted as 
obsolete ; whereas the details of thirty years ago are already 
old enough to be interesting to the historian of the town. 

51 



52 JEFFERIES' LAND 

must have something to do, and somewhere to 
Hve. Men need not go so far from their own 
doors to see another instance of rapid expan- 
sion and development which has taken place 
under a monarchical government. The Swin- 
don of to-day is almost ridiculously dispropor- 
tioned to the Swindon of forty years ago.^ 
Houses have sprung up as if by enchantment, 
trade has increased ; places of worship seem 
constantly building to accommodate the ever 
growing population ; as for public-houses, they 
seem without number. A whole town has 
sprung into existence. The expression New 
Town is literally true. It is new in every sense 
of the word. New in itself, new in the descrip- 
tion of Its Inhabitants. There was no republi- 
can form of self-government at Swindon forty 
years ago — on the contrary, the place was 
decidedly conservative, averse to change, and 
looking at those who proposed it with sus- 
picion. It certainly was not owing to repub- 
licanism that the place developed so fast. 
That was not the cause, but that has been the 
effect. New Swindon is as decidedly demo- 

^ Middlesborough is another famous example of the rapid 
growth of an English town. 



SWINDON IN 1867 53 

cratic in its sentiments as Old Swindon was 
conservative. The real cause of this enormous 
development may be traced to that agent which 
has effected an almost universal change — • 
Steam. Swindon is going ahead by steam — 
the phrase is literally and metaphorically 
correct. Yet the first push was not due to 
steam. Forty-five years ago, or thereabouts, 
the Wilts and Berks Canal came along close 
below the Old Town, cutting right through 
that flat meadow-land which was, twenty 
years after, to resound with the hum of men. 
The calm, contemplative, chew-a-straw steers- 
man of the barge boats was then first seen 
slowly gliding past, tugged along by a horse 
walking on the tow-path. With what amaze- 
ment and admiration the agricultural labourer's 
children must have been struck as they viewed 
the progress of the painted boat ; how they 
must have envied such an apparently easy 
life ! These children were designed to see 
more astonishing things yet. Simple as they 
were, they have seen in actual existence what 
the wise men of former ages never dreamt of. 
That part which it was found necessary for 
the canal to pass through immediately beneath 



54 JEFFERIES' LAND 

Swindon was discovered to be the highest 
level on its whole course. Here there was no 
necessity for a lock for a distance of seven 
miles, and accordingly there is, at this day, a 
clear stretch of seven miles of water — New 
Swindon beinof situated somewhere about the 
middle, and consequently, a capital place to 
launch pleasure boats could the Canal Com- 
pany be persuaded to speculate, or allow 
others to. A canal was something so utterly 
foreign in its conception to what the country 
people had been accustomed, that it was 
dubbed the " river," and goes by that name 
in the country round to this day. This long 
stretch of clear seven miles without a lock 
necessarily intercepted and received the water 
of numerous streams and rivulets, which — the 
right of use for certain periods of the year hav- 
ing been purchased by the Company — are used 
by them to keep this portion of the canal well 
filled, in order to supply the loss when a lock 
is opened. But so great was the traffic in 
those days, and accordingly so great was the 
quantity of water required, that it was dis- 
covered that in the summer, should it chance 
to be a dry one, there would always be the 



SWINDON IN 1867 55 

risk of a deficiency. Moreover, a lock might 
break, a bank might slip — a hundred possible 
accidents rendered a constant reservoir at this, 
the highest level desirable, and Indeed neces- 
sary to the proper working of the canal. 
Accordingly the engineers of the Company 
cast about to find a fit place to construct a 
reservoir, and at last fixed on a valley at 
Coate, about a mile and a half from Swindon. 
This valley was enclosed by a bank at each 
extremity, and the water of a brook which 
originally ran through It, together with that 
from other springs artificially compelled to run 
here, being allowed to accumulate, formed 
exactly what was desired ; while the original 
course of the brook took off" any superfluity 
that might occur from flooding, and by a 
branch from It the canal could be always 
supplied. But the site offered one difficulty. 
There was a spring rising Immediately without 
the upper bank of the reservoir, which It was 
found Impossible to make run into it ; more- 
over. It was wanted by the farmers and Inhabi- 
tants of the vale beneath. This, then, must 
run under the reservoir. A brick culvert was 
accordingly constructed, but an unfortunate 



S6 JEFFERIES' LAND 

oversight occurred. That part of the bottom 
of the reservoir over which It was necessary 
the culvert should be carried at the latter 
end of Its course, had originally been but one 
remove from a morass, In short, was very 
"shaky." Upon this unstable foundation the 
culvert seems to have been placed, and with 
the result which might have been anticipated. 
The weight of the brick-work, with a superin- 
cumbent load of earth and sand thrown on, 
proved too great for the soft ooze upon which 
It was placed. The culvert gradually sank In 
places, the brickwork cracked, and leaks have 
ever since been more or less frequent. One 
occurred of a very serious character, when the 
meadows below were flooded by the escaped 
water of the reservoir, and had not a hatch 
been beaten down by sledge hammers. It has 
been thought that the reservoir bank must 
have been washed away, and the thousands of 
tons of water It contained would have been 
precipitated into the vale, the effect of which 
would have been an enormous damage to 
property and probable loss of life. The reser- 
voir, when full, covers an extent of seventy-two 
acres, and is a favourite place for summer pic- 







> 



o 



SWINDON IN 1867 57 

nics, being so near the town. Racing boats 
were formerly kept here, and some exciting 
pulls occurred, but this has long been discon- 
tinued. The want of boats — those that there 
are being utterly insufficient to supply the 
demand — causes much remark, since they 
would evidently be a paying speculation.^ It 
is a beautiful sheet of water, approaching a mile 
in length, and has so much the appearance of 
being natural, that it is difficult even upon 
examination to consider it a work of man. 
The delusion is kept up by the numerous 
trees, and the romantic scenery around. The 
place was completed in 1822. 

The completion of the canal — a wharf being 
of course constructed opposite Swindon — gave 
the first noticeable stimulus to the progress of 
the place. Swindon was a kind of junction, 
the canal here branching off into two — one 
going to Bristol, the other to Gloucester — and 
consequently a most favourable situation for 
trade. Coal now reached the town in greater 
quantities, and at a much less cost than pre- 
viously, and a great carrying trade sprang up. 
Old inhabitants relate that in winter, when a 
^ This defect has long since been remedied. 



58 JEFFERIES LAND 

sharp frost — somehow the frosty weather In 
these modern days never seems to come up to 
the description of that of yore — had bound the 
canal as if with iron, there was immediately 
an apprehension that the price of coals would 
rise ; which, if the frost continued, and the 
barges could not come up, it accordingly did, 
until all that remained upon the wharf being 
consumed, a coal famine would ensue. Enter- 
prising farmers, whose teams could not work in 
that weather, would then dispatch a waggon 
and a trusty man even down to the very pit's 
mouth, purchase a load cheap, and make a 
good profit by retailing It around. These were 
the good old days ! The poor must have 
suffered grievously for want of fuel when even | 

the wealthy were straitened, especially in town, 
for in the country districts wood was plentiful, 
and the fireplaces adapted for consuming it. 
These were the halcyon days of the Canal 
Company. But a new wonder was to come 
and supplant the old. 

Those who could afford to purchase a paper 
(for papers were not sold for half-pence then) 
and who could read It when they got it, had 
already been wondering over what would come 



SWINDON IN 1867 59 

of that new invention — the steam engine. It 
answered well to pump the water out of the 
mines in Cornwall, boats had been propelled 
by it, and finally, a tramway was constructed 
at Manchester, which was found successful. 
Then began the mania of railway speculation, 
which, if it ruined thousands, proved the basis 
upon which Swindon was to rise. The idea of 
the Great Western Railway was at last started 
— a gigantic scheme which was to connect the 
two great cities of the South of England, 
London and Bristol, by a level iron road. 
Men were seen about in all directions, with 
curious instruments, to the wonder of gaping 
rustics, and the rage of farmers whose hedges 
had gaps cut in them to clear the line of sight, 
or whose property was trespassed upon by 
enterprising engineers. The plan was looked 
upon as monstrous by the aristocracy of the 
country. These iron roads — who could hunt if 
they intersected the land '^. These screaming 
engines — where could be found a quiet corner 
for the pheasants, if they were allowed to roam 
across the country ? Good-bye to the rural 
retirement and peaceful silence of the deer- 
dotted park, if once the white puff of the steam 



6o JEFFERIES' LAND 

engine curled over the ancient oaks ! Great 
opposition was offered to the railway bills, but 
they were passed in spite of all, with a proviso 
preserving parks ; which, by the way, diverted 
the Great Western from running immediately 
by Old Swindon, it having been originally 
designed to pass somewhere about where the 
gasometer stands now, that is to say, to intrude 
on the Goddard property. 

The work was now vigorously proceeded 
with. On the 26th of November, 1835, the 
first contract was taken. This was the Wharn- 
cliffe viaduct. Excepting about four miles in 
the vicinity of London, the rest was let out 
down to Maidenhead, during the following six 
months. The work of the Bristol part was 
commenced in 1836, and the first contract let 
was a length of nearly three miles, extending 
from the Avon to Keynsham. But the most 
formidable undertaking on the whole line was 
the celebrated Box tunnel. The shafts were 
contracted for in the latter part of 1836, the 
tunnel itself in the following year. Three long 
years were expended in drilling — if such an 
expression may be employed — this enormous 
hole through the hill ; it having not been 



SWINDON IN 1867 61 

completed until 1841. The depth which the 
shafts had to be sunk was on an average 240 
feet, and their diameter is twenty-eight feet. 
The tunnel Is straight as a gun barrel, and can 
be seen through from end to end, which allows 
the observation of some singular effects of per- 
spective. Its length Is 3,200 yards, or nearly 
two miles ; It cost over half a million ; no less 
than 20,000,000 of bricks were employed In the 
construction of the arching. The whole length 
of the line from Paddlngton to Bristol Is 118^ 
miles, and It was completed In the following 
order: — Maidenhead opened up to, on June 4, 
1838; Twyford, July i,^ 1839 ; Reading, March 
30, 1840^; Steventon, June i, 1840; Farlng- 
don Road, July 20, 1840; Bristol to Bath, 
August 31, 1840; VVootton Bassett Road, 
December 17,^ 1840; Chippenham, May 31,* 
1841 ; to Bath, June 30, 1841. That part 
of the line which runs past Swindon Is for 
several miles remarkably straight. Approach- 
ing Swindon from London, the rail is carried 
through a deep cutting, especially near Strat- 
ton St. Margaret ; but upon the other side 

1 Or 5th. 2 Another date is 6th April. 

3 Or 1 6th. -^ Or I St June. 



62 JEFFERIES' LAND 

it is raised upon an embankment. Much of 
the earth of the embankment was taken from 
a field on the slope of Kingshill Hill, at the 
top of the Sands, Swindon ; the soil being 
purchased, of course, from the owner for that 
purpose. A tramway was constructed in such 
a manner that the trucks running down the 
hill drew up a string of empty ones — a simple 
but dangerous proceeding which gave rise to 
one accident at least. It is to the railway that 
Swindon owes its importance, and New Swin- 
don its existence. Swindon now became the 
emporium of North Wilts and the adjacent 
counties. When it became a junction, and all 
trains were ordered to stop here ten minutes, 
it derived additional importance, and became a 
place well-known to travellers. The station is 
itself a fine building, and contains some large 
refreshment rooms. 

At length it was announced that a factory 
was to be built for the manufacture of engines, 
and other requisites of a railroad. This was 
a good time for landed proprietors at New 
Swindon. Land which was scarcely worth 
the trouble of attending to, much of it covered 
with furze, the retreat of rabbits and game, and 



SWINDON IN 1867 63 

playground for boys, was purchased at a price 
equal to that given for the best in other situa- 
tions. One or two persons made fortunes. Up 
rose the factory, and workmen began to pour in 
from all quarters. Houses were built at a rate 
which astonished the country, and a new class 
of men, hitherto unknown in the neighbour- 
hood, appeared, men who worked hard, earned 
high wages, and were determined to live upon 
the best they could afford. The agricultural 
labourer was content with bread and beer, 
the mechanic must have meat, groceries, and 
other comforts.^ The farm labourer bought 
a smock-frock twice in his lifetime, and used 
his grandfather s gaiters ; the mechanic dressed 
smartly. Tradesmen found New Swindon 
a profitable place — a Wiltshire California. 
Publicans discovered that steel filings make 
men quite as thirsty as hay dust. Moreover, 
the mechanic must lodge somewhere. To 
accommodate the constantly increasing number 
of workmen it employed, the company built a 
place, since known as the Barracks, upon the 



^ A characteristic feature of New Swindon, worthy of 
notice in this connection, is the dearth of book-shops. 



64 JEFFERIES' LAND 

plan of French lodging-houses, to have a 
common kitchen and common entrance, with 
a day and night porter ; but the thing did 
not answer, and there stands the Barracks to 
this day [1867], a great pile of buildings with 
broken windows, the few inhabitants of which 
were so dirty in their habits, that a year ago 
[1866] it was thought to threaten a visitation 
of cholera, and underwent a thorough clearing 
under the supervision of the police. The 
Briton likes to be independent, or what he 
thinks so. Streets sprang up in all directions. 
The situation was flat and damp, and there 
was a deficiency of good water — it did not 
matter ; the mechanic must have a house, and 
a house he had. The company built a church 
and a Mechanics' Institute. The Dissenting 
community have not been behindhand, and 
chapels of almost every denomination may be 
found. Persons of middle age describe the 
change which has taken place since they can 
remember as something almost incredible. 
Streets stand where were formerly meadows 
and hedgerows. Bridge Street contained two 
residences. The one was what was considered 
the manor house — it is now occupied by Mr. 



SWINDON IN 1867 65 

Charles Hurt, and stands at the top of Bridge 
Street on the right hand — the other was a 
small cottage, a little further down towards 
the canal. The cottage can still be seen — a 
strange contrast with its thatched roof, dark 
with age, and half hidden by weeds, to the 
red-bricked and slated erections adjoining. 
Bridge Street now contains three places of 
worship, — a Methodist Chapel, a Roman 
Catholic, and a Free Christian Church, — shops 
and houses in abundance ; while if it be 
reckoned to extend over the Golden Lion 
Bridge as far as the Volunteer Inn, it now 
contains no less than seven public-houses. 
And all this in the last thirty years ! There 
is no necessity to go to Chicago for an in- 
stance of rapid development. New Swindon 
is the Chicago of the western counties. This 
Bridge Street, now so much used, was formerly 
a mere track made by waggon wheels across 
furrows, which crossed the canal at the Golden 
Lion Bridge. That bridge, by the bye, is a 
disgrace to the town. Where thirty years ago 
stood trees, now stand lamp-posts! Instead of 
rails and stakes there are now scaffolding-poles ; 
and what was once turf is now hard road. 

F 



66 JEFFERIES' LAND 

This is what the railroad and factory have 
done for Swindon. 

This factory is perhaps the largest in the 
West of England/ Here are employed as 

^ In a paper by A. H. Mallan, on " The Great Western 
Railway Works at Swindon," we read : — 

*' In inspecting the works two points impress themselves 
on the mind : 

" I. The economy of mechanical power, through duplica- 
tion of work. 

" 2. The giant forces, invisible and unsuspected, literally 
beneath the feet, only requiring the touch of a handle to 
exert tremendous power in divers ways and methods. 

"The wood-working department is the most captivating 
part of the whole works; partly on account of the resin- 
ous, turpentine smell, deliciously refreshing as compared 
with the oily atmosphere of the rest. 

***** 

" In the forges, an elaborate example of welding and 
building up is met with in the case of engine and truck 
wheels. These^ in their earlier stages, consist of several 
sections, which are stamped out in dies under the steam 
hammer. One section forms a segment of the rim and 
outer part of the spoke ; another, which is stamped in du- 
plicate and sawn by a circular saw, gives the inner half of 
the spoke and segment of the centre. The two sections 
being then welded together, are ready to be framed for 
receiving the washers which form the boss. They are tem- 
porarily held together by an iron hoop, and after being 
brought to a white heat at the centre, are placed under the 
bossing hammer ; a white hot washer is then placed on the 
centre, to be securely fixed by one mighty thump of the 



SWINDON IN 1867 67 

many as seventeen hundred hands — an army 
of workmen — drawn from the villages round 
about. Here are made the engines used upon 
the Great Western Railway. It is open to 
visitors upon every Wednesday afternoon, and 
is a sight well worth seeing. A person is in 
attendance to show it. The place seems to 
be built somewhat in the form of a parallelo- 
gram. Seven tall chimneys belch forth vol- 
umes of smoke. The first thing shown to 
visitors is an engine room near the entrance. 
Here are two beams of fifty horse-power work- 
ing with a smooth, oily motion, almost without 
noise. The yard beneath is, to a stranger, a 

hammer ; another washer is welded, while at white heat, by 
a hydraulic press known as a veeing machine. The whole 
operation presents a most picturesque appearance. The 
men standing round the hammer, with one dazzling spot in 
their midst, their outlines thrown into highest relief by 
the strong glare from the neighbouring forges, pose them- 
selves naturally, and produce an excellent Rembrandtesque 
effect. 

" Noise there is more or less everywhere ; but the finest 
effects of genuine ear-splitting clatter are met with in the 
riveting shops. Hydraulic riveters do all the work within 
their reach, giving just one noiseless ' squelch ' with their 
great crab-like callipers upon the red hot iron, and leaving 
a neatly-shaped head where the long exposed end of the 
rivet previously protruded." 



68 JEFFERIES' LAND 

vast Incongruous museum of Iron ; Iron In 
every possible shape and form, round and 
square, crooked and straight. Proteus himself 
never changed into the likeness of such things. 
The northern shops are devoted to noise, and 
the voice of the guide Is Inaudible. Here is a 
vast wilderness — an endless vista of forges 
glaring with blue flames, the men all standing 
by leaning upon their hammers, waiting until 
you pass, while far ahead sparks fly in showers 
from the tortured anvils high In the air, looking 
like minute meteors. This place is a temple of 
Vulcan. If the old motto ''Laborare est orare,'' 
"labour is prayer," is correct, here be sturdy 
worshippers of the fire-god. The first glimpse 
of the factory affords a view of sparks, sweat, 
and smoke. Smoke, sweat, and sparks Is the 
last thing that Is seen. 

Passing between a row of fiery furnaces seven 
times heated, the visitors enter the rail-mill, 
where the rails are manufactured. This place 
is a perfect pandemonium. Vast boilers built 
up In brick close in every side, with the steam 
hissing like serpents in Its efforts to escape. 
Enormous fly-wheels spin round and round at 
a velocity which renders the spokes Invisible 



SWINDON IN 1867 69 

Steam hammers shake the ground, where once 
perhaps crouched the timid hare, and stun the 
ear. These hammers are a miracle of human 
manufacture. Though it is possible to strike a 
blow which shall crush iron like earthenware, 
to bring down a weight of tons, yet a skilful 
workman can crack a hazel-nut without injuring 
the kernel. Gazing upon these wonderful 
hammers the visitor is suddenly scorched upon 
one side, and turning, finds that a wheel-barrow 
load of red-hot iron had been thrown down 
beside him, upon which a jet of water plays, 
fizzing off into steam. Springing aside he 
scarcely escapes collision with a mass of red 
hot metal wheeled along and placed beneath 
the steam hammer, where it is thumped and 
bumped flat. His feet now begin to feel the 
heat of the iron flooring, which the thickest 
leather cannot keep out. The workmen wear 
shoes shod with broad headed iron nails from 
heel to toe. Their legs are defended by 
greaves — like an iron cricketing pad ; their 
faces by a gauze metal mask. The clang, the 
rattle, the roar are indescribable ; the confusion 
seems to increase the longer it is looked upon. 
Yonder, a glare almost too strong for the eyes 



70 JEFFERIES' LAND 

shows an open furnace door. Out comes a 
mass of white-hot metal, it is placed on a truck, 
and wheeled forward to the revolving rollers, 
and placed between them. Sparks spurt out 
like a fountain of fire — slowly it passes through, 
much thinned and lengthened by the process : 
which is repeated until at length it emerges in 
the form of a rail. Here come chips of iron 
— if such an expression might be used — all red 
hot, sliding along the iron floor to their destina- 
tion. Look out for your toes ! In the dark 
winter nights the glare from this place can be 
seen for miles around ; lighting up the clouds 
with a lurid glow like that from some vast con- 
flagration. The shop known as the R Shop is 
the most interesting. Here iron is cut, and 
shaved as if it were wood. A vast hall filled 
with engines of all stages finishes the factory. 

The factory and the place generally will 
always be connected with the name of Sir 
Daniel Gooch,^ who was for so long a period 



^ No engines in the world have so long and so famous a 
history as the old engines of Sir Daniel Gooch. It is 
indeed surprising that a type decided upon so early as 1846 
(*' The North Briton ") should be found capable of perform- 
ing the duties of express engine in 1891, when the weight 



SWINDON IN 1867 71 

intimately associated with it. A vast audience 
in the hall of the Mechanics' Institute was held 
in spell-bound silence scarce a twelvemonth 
since, when that celebrated man gave a short 
account of his career : how when but a youth 
he had stood upon a bridge in Newcastle all 
but despairing, when he chanced to observe a 
motto cut upon it In large letters : '' Nil desper- 
andunt' — "Never despair" — which from that 
moment he adopted as his own. New Swindon 
will never forget Sir Daniel Gooch, ^ whilst 
the Mechanics' Institute affords the mechanic 
a chance of becoming acquainted with litera- 
ture, and the factory of earning a decent liveli- 
hood. 

Old Swindon has shared in the change 
brought about by the enormous influx of popu- 
lation which followed the construction of the 
Great Western Railway, But in Old Swindon — 
a place dating from the Danish times — changes 



of the trains is at least double that which they were de- 
signed to draw. 

^ Born 18 1 6, died 1889. Became Chairman of the Great 
Western Railway when its stock stood at 38J, until it rose 
to 160. Made a baronet for his services in connection with 
the Atlantic Cable, 1866. 



72 JEFFERIES' LAND 

and improvements long preceded the very ex- 
istence of the New Town. The Old Swindon 
of to-day is very new in comparison with the 
Swindon of seventy years ago ; for then there 
was but one Swindon. Immediately without the 
town is a well-known field called the " Butts," 
probably the place where archery was practised 
when the bow and arrow was the principal 
weapon of the English army. This must have 
been in use not less than two centuries ago, 
perhaps more ; for though in the reign of 
Charles II. archery bands were still formed, 
the bow and arrow do not seem to have been 
used in the Civil War, except indeed, perhaps, 
in the North of Scotland. (See Scott's novel, 
Montrose, on that point.) The associations 
then connected with this field belong to a 
period coeval with that in which the Bell 
Hotel, High Street, was built, which appears 
from the date affixed to have been in 1581. 
Queen Elizabeth then sat upon the throne of 
England. The Spanish Armada had not yet 
put forth to sea. Higher up the street, upon 
the same side, there is a house now occupied 
by Pakeman Brothers, which bears the date of 
1 63 1. Mr. Gillett's is dated 1741. Thirteen 



SWINDON IN 1867 Ti, 

years after this, or in 1754, a person by the 
name of Robert Sadler was born in Swindon.^ 
He made himself in a certain sense notorious 
by the publication of a work called Wanley 
Pe7ison ; or, the Melancholy Man. 

Then, and for long after,^ bull-baiting was no 

^ Sadler lived afterv\'ards at Chippenham and at Malmes- 
bury. His father, who was a glover and breeches maker, 
was a member of the Moravian Brethren, and the novel 
of JVan/ey Pejiso7i deals with the tenets of this sect. He 
also wrote The Discarded Spinster ; or, a Flea for the 
Poor, dealing with the effects of the introduction of ma- 
chinery into the manufacture of cloth. He left two other 
works in manuscript. The description of his personal ap- 
pearance so closely resembles that of Richard Jefferies that 
it is here quoted in full. 

Britton says of Sadler : — 

" He was a man of singular person, manners and abili- 
ties. Had the same mind been well instructed and dis- 
cipHned in early life, it might have become eminent in art, 
in literature, or in science ; for it manifested, on many occa- 
sions, the rudiments and principles, as well as the union of 
philosophy and poetry. . . . Like most sedentary, 
studious persons, his whole frame was morbid, the muscles 
relaxed and the nervous system deranged, his physical 
powers were always weak and languid. 

" In person, he was tall, thin, and apparently in a state of 
consumption. The face was narrow and pale, the cheeks 
collapsed, his general physiognomy that of an abstracted 
and melancholy, but highly intellectual man." 

^ Probably until nearly 181 2. 



74 JEFFERtES' LAND 

uncommon thing at Swindon. The sport was 
carried on in the Square, and the stone post to 
which the bull was tied was removed in the 
memory of man ; though it had not been used 
for some time previously. Swindon once 
boasted a market-house, just as It now boasts 
a corn exchange ; the difference being that, 
whereas the modern building is a substantial 
erection of stone, the place was supported upon 
oaken pillars. It was pulled down In the year 
1793. Close by stood the stocks and whip- 
ping-post, which were taken down about the • 1 
same time. 

Wood Street — that fashionable street, the 
Strand of Swindon — was then known as Black- 
smith Street. There were three blacksmiths' 
forges in it, from which it was named, and the 
noise and smoke from them, when in full 
vigour, was something Intolerable. Some en- 
terprising persons actually erected a windmill 
here, but the speculation was unsuccessful ; it 
was taken down, and three cottages built with 
the materials, which three cottages stood where 
now the King's Arms Inn offers shelter and 
good cheer to travellers. Wood Street had in 
the memory of man a very pleasant appear- 



SWINDON IN 1867 75 

ance. Trees and shrubs grew In one spot ; 
and against the walls of the houses on the 
northern side — that which receives the sun- 
shine — were trained a number of vines. One 
of these vines, which were remarkably strong 
and vigorous, being protected by chains or 
railings from injury to the stem, grew against 
the wall of Messrs. Edwards & Suter, the iron- 
mongers' shop ; another against that of Mr. 
Pimbury, and a third displayed its tempting 
clusters of grapes upon the wall of an old 
cottage which once stood upon the spot which 
the post-office now occupies. Wood Street 
has lost this pleasant appearance. At this date 
there were so many things not to be found at 
Swindon, that a modern might exclaim there 
was nothing at all in it. Firstly, there was no 
railroad, nor canal. There were no banks, and 
if there were dissenters there were at least no 
chapels. There were no newspapers, nor any 
one to print them, nor booksellers to sell them 
— not even so much as a stationer's shop, 
which almost every village can now boast. 
There was no druggist, nor patent medicine 
dealer — perhaps little the worse for that — and 
lastly there were no watchmakers. Those 



76 JEFFERIES' LAND 

large brazen-faced clocks, which can be found 
in almost every farmhouse in the neighbour- 
hood, never bear the imprint of a Swindon 
maker. Cricklade and Lyneham were famous 
places for clocks. At this date progress was 
indeed slow. In a course of twenty years five 
new houses were built. No living to be got 
by house-building ! Contracts are things of 
modern date. They built houses very leisurely 
in former times, but they had this advantage, 
they were built well. 

The railway had one effect at Swindon which 
was immediately perceptible. It knocked the 
coaching business on the head. Swindon had 
been a stage between Cheltenham and South- 
ampton. The next was Marlborough, whither 
a coach ran from the Goddard Arms daily. It 
was long driven by a man of the name of 
Danvers, and was usually drawn by three pie- 
bald horses. The starting of this coach was 
the event of the day in Swindon. The win- 
dows were crowded by spectators — chiefly 
ladies — whose curiosity seems to have been as 
great then as now. The old inhabitants main- 
tain that Swindon, despite its increased popula- 
tion, has never seemed so gay as in the 



SWINDON IN 1867 77 

coaching times. It was by no means unusual 
for persons to walk out of town in the after- 
noon, meet the coach, and ride back in it. 
There was another coach which went to Hun- 
gerford, en rotUe for London, a journey which 
then occupied a whole day, from six in the 
morning till six at night, and cost a guinea in 
matter of fare. 

In those times the petty sessions were con- 
ducted In a small room at the Goddard Arms 
Inn, with closed doors, only a few favoured 
individuals being allowed entrance. It was 
remarked that offences against the game laws 
were usually visited by severe penalties. There 
was no police station — the police being repre- 
sented by a single constable. At night a 
watchman perambulated the streets, staff in 
hand, who at intervals cried the hours, adding 
the state of the weather. Prisoners were con- 
fined in a place most appropriately called the 
Black Hole, which was at the top of Newport 
Street, then known as Bull Street, on the spot 
now occupied by the engine house. It was a 
small, damp, and dirty dungeon, half under 
ground ; lighted by a hole in the door crossed 
with iron bars, through which those that were 



78 JEFFERIES' LAND 

within might converse with those without, or 
suck in beer by the aid of a tobacco pipe. For 
their meals they were conducted to the Bull 
Inn, thus affording them a capital chance of a 
rescue. This place was a disgrace to the town. 
The credit of its removal must in a great 
measure be given to Mr. C. A. Wheeler. 

Another effect of the railway on Old Swin- 
don was the building of houses in Prospect 
Place and the New Road. Swindon, like other 
places which are progressing, shows a tendency 
to extend itself westward ; scarcely a house 
being added upon the eastern side. The 
Sands has become a fashionable promenade. 
Persons formerly had to go to Marlborough if 
they wished to go "shopping"; at present they 
come to Swindon. Swindon has, in short, 
become the capital of North Wilts. 

Christ Church is a landmark for miles 
around. It was consecrated upon Friday, the 
7th of November, 1852, by the Lord Bishop of 
Llandaff ; the sermon upon the occasion being 
preached by the Rev. Giles Daubeney. The 
length of the structure is 130 feet ; the breadth, 
exclusive of the transepts, nave, and chancel, 
50 feet ; and the tower, with the spire, rises 



SWINDON IN 1867 79 

165 feet. The great stained-glass window was 
uncovered on the 7th November, 1855. It 
consists of five lancet divisions. The small 
quatrefoils contain the arms of Grooby and 
Vilett ; the larger have three illustrations taken 
from the Old Testament — the offering for the 
cleansing of a leper, the consecration of one 
bird and the flight of another ; the brazen ser- 
pent ; and the offering of the first-fruits of the 
harvest. The five divisions are separated into 
three horizontal compartments, containing five 
designs from the Bible — the Parable of the 
Sower ; the Pearl of Great Price ; the Net cast 
into the Sea ; the Pharisee and the Publican ; 
the Good Shepherd ; the Prodigal Son ; and 
the Good Samaritan. The inscription at the 
foot states that the window was erected '' to the 
honour and glory of God, and in memory of 
the Rev. J as. Grooby, many years vicar of the 
parish, by his widow, Catherine Mary Grooby, 
and also to the memory of her brother, Lieut.- 
Col. Vilett." It was made at Newcastle-on- 
Tyne, in the manufactory of Mr. Wailes, and 
was pronounced by him the best he had done, 
or probably should do. No expense was 
spared upon the window — carte blanche being 



8o JEFFERIES' LAND 

given — and it is considered by the admirers of 
such productions as most beautiful. 

Swindon has now [1867] an increasing popu- 
lation of 8,000.^ It is lighted by gas, and has 
many public buildings, of all of which full de- 
scriptions have appeared in the North Wilts 
Herald. Its situation is dry and healthy. It 
stands perhaps upon the highest spot above 
the sea in the midland western counties ; the 
neighbourhood being the watershed of three 
rivers. A spring, passing through Brudhill, 
and joined by the water from another which 
rises almost beneath the family mansion of the 
Goddards, runs down to near the canal, where, 
falling into a brook coming from Chiseldon, 
through Coate, it proceeds through Raw- 
borough and Coleshill to join the Thames or 
I sis River near Inglesham. That spring, which 
rises near to the Goddard mansion, formerly 
supplied a large pond close to the churchyard, 
which had a very pleasant appearance, and 
supplied large numbers with good water. 
Horses could be watered here. The same 

1 The present population (1896) is about 36,000, an 
increase in thirty years which has been exceeded by few 
EngHsh towns. 



SWINDON IN 1867 81 

Spring drove a water-wheel immediately be- 
neath. The old mill has been down some 
years, but the pond has been only lately filled 
up. A pump stands there now, and a plot of 
rhododendrons covers the space once occupied 
by water. A second spring, rising at Wrough- 
ton, runs through Blagrove and Rodbourne 
Cheney, on to Cricklade, where it also falls 
into the Thames. A third spring rises between 
Lower Upham and Draycott Foliatt, close to 
the Marlborough Road, runs through 0<g- 
bourne, and joins the Kennet at Mildenhall, 
near Marlborouofh. A fourth rises at Hack- 
pen, passes by Abury, and is the mainspring of 
the Kennet. Finally, a fifth rises at Solthrop, 
runs through Wootton Bassett, and at length 
falls into the Avon. Hence it will be seen 
that three rivers — the Thames, Kennet, and 
Avon — receive supplies either from Swindon 
itself,^ or the immediate neighbourhood. 

1 " Thus the waters of Wiltshire find their wav from the 
heart of the county respectively to the Atlantic, the English 
Channel, and the German Ocean." — R. N. Worth. 



G 




CHAPTER IV 

UPPER UP HAM 

" Old John of Gaunt — time-honoured Lancaster." 

— Shakespeare. 

PPER UPHAM lies about seven miles 
from Swindon in an easterly direction. 
It simply consists of a mansion and an adjoin- 
ing cottage or two, which stands upon the 
summit of a ridge of downs immediately behind 
Liddington Castle — that conspicuous and well- 
known landmark to all the neighbourhood 
round about. It is so named to distinguish it 
from Lower Upham — a farmhouse standing 
beneath in the vale. Here is a strange avenue 
of sycamore trees, through which runs the way 
from Marlborough road to Upper Upham. 
After leaving Lower Upham the ground im- 

82 



UPPER UPHAM 3 

mediately commences to ascend. On the left 
hand there is a conspicuous ** tump " or 
'* hump," in the language of the locality, that 
is, a mound covered with turf, which has been 
considered a tumulus, but is not sufficiently 
distinct to be so called without further and 
internal examination. Upon the top of the 
first ridge of downs, overlooking Lower 
Upham and the plain of Chiseldon, there is a 
piece of arable land. Here, some time since, 
the plough turned up some portions of mosaic- 
work in a very perfect state of preservation, 
supposed to have once formed the floor of a 
Roman villa, or some other structure of the 
Roman period. This mosaic was formerly in 
the possession of the present occupier of Upper 
Upham farm, Mr. Frampton, a courteous 
gentleman, to whose untiring exertion and 
intelligent investigations the present author 
owes most of the facts he is here enabled 
to lay before the reader. It is much to 
be regretted that this mosaic has been 
mislaid, probably through the carelessness of 
servants, and it is still more to be regretted 
that no excavations have been made upon the 
site of the discovery, excavations which might 



84 JEFFERIES' LAND 

be expected to yield much interesting- matter 
calculated to throw light upon the manners of 
the Romans during their long stay in Britain. 
Upper Upham, though a mansion of great 
extent and height, and though placed upon 
the summit of a ridge of the downs, is yet so 
concealed by trees that it is only when standing 
immediately before it that anything of a view 
can be obtained. The gabled roof, mullioned 
windows, and gigantic porch at once convey 
an impression of antiquity, which is borne out 
upon investigation. The porch is sufficiently 
high to enable a person on horseback to sit 
beneath it as a sentinel, like the Horse Guards 
at Whitehall. Perhaps in ancient days the 
door was of a similar height to allow of a 
horseman riding into the hall of the mansion — 
an occurrence by no means uncommon if 
tradition and ballads are worthy of credence. 
The champion rides into Westminster Hall at 
the coronation dinner even in the present age, 
and in the old metrical romance of Kinof 
Estmere (supposed to have been written late 
in the fifteenth century, perhaps about 1491), 
there is a plain allusion to such a custom. 
King Estmere, in order to obtain entrance to 



UPPER UPHAM 85 

his lady love, who Is sitting at her marriage- 
feast beside the paynim King of Spain — by 
compulsion be It understood — disguises himself 
as a minstrel, and, in company with his brother, 
" Adler Yonge," who carries his harp, rides up 
to the hall gate. The porter Intimates that he 
does not recognize them. 

" Then they pulled out a ryng of gold 

Layd itt on the porter's arme : 
' And ever we will thee, proud porter, 

Thou wilt saye us no harme.' 
Sore he looked on Kyng Estmere 

And sore he handled the ryng, 
Then opened to them the fayre hall yates, 

He lett for no kind of thyng. 

" Kyng Estmere he stabled his steede 

Soe fayre att the hall borde 
The frothe that came from his brydle bitte 

Light on King Bremor's beard. 
Saies, 'Stable thou steede thou proud harper, 

Goe, stable him in the stalle ; 
Itt doth not beseeme a proud harper, 

To stable him in a Kyng's halle.' " 

A fight ensues, in which King Estmere and 
''Adler Yonge" vanquish the whole paynim 
host, by help of " grammarye," that is magic, 
and finally convey the bride home. 



86 JEFFERIES' LAND 

Now upon the arch of the porch is the fol- 
lowing inscription : — 




which date is not much more than a century- 
after the date of the above ballad. These 
initials are those of the Goddards of Cliffe, or 
Cleeve, who at that time owned the Upper 
Upham estate. This antique porch being in a 
very faulty state, and threatening destruction, 
instead of affording shelter, to those who passed 
beneath, was some time since repaired, but 
without altering its original appearance. High 
over the porch hangs a bell, used for divers 
purposes — it was cast in the neighbouring 
village of Aldbourne. The mansion is built of 
flint and stone, the first being a material easily 
obtainable upon these downs, whence are taken 
hundreds of cart-loads in the course of a year 
for repairing the adjacent highways. The 
porch before mentioned gives entrance to what 
was originally one vast hall, extending the 



UPPER UPHAM 87 

whole length of the building. At present this 
enormous apartment is partitioned off into two 
— a sitting-room and a drawing-room — another 
portion of it forms a passage ; and a fourth is 
still used for the purposes for which a modern 
hall is required. This must have been a mag- 
nificent apartment in times gone by. Hundreds 
of retainers might have sat at table in the body 
of the hall, looked down upon by " my lord," 
sitting on the dais, or raised portion ; which at 
this day forms a drawing-room whose floor is 
still elevated a step or two above that of the 
other apartments. When the size of this im- 
mense apartment is thoroughly understood and 
conceived, it is impossible not to marvel at the 
vastness of the ideas of our ancestors. Here, 
perched upon a wild range of down, utterly 
unseen, and unheard of by the traveller, far 
distant from any other habitation, is a mansion 
which might compete, perhaps, with any in 
North Wilts, for the original extent of its 
apartments, and most certainly in the traditions 
and associations connected with them. At the 
present date the neighbourhood seems deserted, 
but then it must have been possible to collect 
hundreds together, since guests to fill the im- 



88 JEFFERIES' LAND 

mense hall must certainly have required to be 
numbered by the hundred. 

The present sitting-room contains two objects 
of especial interest. The first Is a carved 
mantelpiece, of great width, height, and an- 
tiquity ; there are few things here that are not 
at the same time ancient and Immense. It 
takes a tall man to reach anything off this 
mantelpiece. But above It Is an attraction to 
the antiquary. It Is a large square tablet — If 
such an expression may be used — containing a 
carved coat-of-arms. The centre-piece Is much 
defaced ; one of the supporters Is completely 
gone, and the other so much mutilated that It 
seems Impossible to pronounce it either a griffin 
or an unicorn ; probably It Is the latter. A ducal 
crown projects above, with what appear enor- 
mous oak leaves. Beneath Is a scroll carved at 
full length with the Inscription : *' Dieu et mon 
droit." ^ The whole is surrounded by a carved 
border. This Is considered to be the coat-of- 



^ Mr. Morris says : " It would seem from this that there 
is nothing more than tradition for it that Upper Upham 
was ever a royal hunting seat. And it must be further 
noticed that the tradition, as handed down by John Britton 
and the Rev. J. Seagram, does not exactly tally, the former 



UPPER UP HAM 89 

arms of Lancaster. When John of Gaunt, the 
son of King Edward the Third, was created 
Duke of Lancaster by his father, at the cere- 
mony of investure he was not only girded by 
the King with a sword, but a cap of fur under- 
neath a coronet of gold set with jewels was 
placed upon his head. He seems to have been 
the first who was thus, as It were, crowned. 
Here on this coat-of-arms may still be seen 
the representation of this ducal crown, which 
exactly answers the description given of the 
original. These are the arms^ of the celebrated 
John of Gaunt, '' time-honoured Lancaster." 

referring to the place as being the hunting seat of King 
John, who reigned from 11 89 to 11 99, and the latter to 
John of Gaunt, who died 1398. Of course, it may be that 
both King John and John of Gaunt made use of Upper 
Upham as a hunting seat. And this would seem to be 
very probable. King John's connection with Marlborough, 
the almost adjoining parish, is well authenticated." 

Mr. Waylen. in his History of Marlborough^ says : " John's 
connection with Marlborough is still further testified by the 
fact that he selected it as the scene of his marriage with the 
heiress of the Earl of Gloucester, which took place in con- 
formity with Richard's wishes, and in all probability with the 
sanction of his presence, 29th August, 11S9." 

^ The arms of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, were : 
"France and England quarterly, with a label of three 
points, ermine, with the garter."' 



90 JEFFERIES' LAND 

The motto is that of the monarchs of England : 
'' God and my right." 

At the back of the hall are the offices and 
staircase. The staircase is of carved oak in 
good preservation, and occupies much room. 
Immediately over the hall is a chamber known 
as the " banqueting room." This, too, is on 
the same scale. It is at least thirty feet in 
length, and of corresponding breadth and 
height. Here is another carved mantelpiece, 
considered to be of Jacobean times. It is in 
excellent preservation. The supporters on 
either hand are carved figures. What in- 
describable scenes of revelry this chamber in 
all probability witnessed in the days of long 
ago ! Whilst the rude retainers quaffed, and 
roared forth their drinking songs in the 
spacious hall beneath, those of more noble 
birth feasted here. Every window — and there 
were three to this banqueting room, though 
now but one — glared forth upon the night with 
the light of the flames in the fireplace, or the 
flaring torches. Two cart-loads of wood, says 
tradition, was the allowance of yonder yawning 
chimney-place from sunset to sunrise. Here 
the strangely-dressed courtiers of Queen Eliza- 



UPPER UPHAM 91 

beth's time feasted and drank, and discussed 
court scandal. There is a tradition that Oueen 
Elizabeth herself once spent a night or two in 
this old mansion during one of her progresses. 
Francis Rutland, a courtier who died during a 
progress, lies buried in Chiseldon Church, not 
much over two miles distant. Here the 
cavaliers of King Charles's days roared out their 
tipsy loyalty, and swore deep oaths of deadly 
vengeance against " Old Noll," whose soldiers, 
says tradition, destroyed as far as they were 
able the carved coat-of-arms in the hall beneath. 
It bore the royal motto — that was enough — 
down with it! Musket butt, or pike-end — 
destroy the idol Baal ! Such was the fierce 
unreasoning hatred of the Parliamentarian 
soldiers to everything which symbolized 
monarchy. King Charles himself may have 
caught a hurried glance at these ancient walls, 
for he was often in the neighbourhood, and 
once or twice passed very near, as will be 
presently shown. The men of times long 
before these, men of plate-armour, two-handed 
swords and battle-axes, may have taken re- 
freshment here for aught that is distinctly 
known to the contrary. That old oaken stair- 



92 JEFFERIES' LAND 

case may have felt the Iron tread of mailed 
men, and re-echoed to the clank of their long 
swords and jingling spurs. These vast halls 
carry back the mind to a period of English 
history long gone by — far back to the days of 
steel. These are the days of steam. 

The very elevated situation upon which the 
mansion is built may be easily realized when it 
is stated that, with the aid of a good telescope, 
Windsor can be seen upon the one hand, and 
Brecon, in Wales, on the other. This is, of 
course, from the upper storeys. 

The mansion, or the estate at least, was In 
ancient days one of those in the possession of 
John of Gaunt, the most remarkable man of his 
age. His relation to royal personages would 
have been sufficient to have made his name in 
a certain sense famous, he being the son of a 
king, the brother of a king, and the uncle of a 
king. But it was as a military commander that 
John of Gaunt chiefly shone.^ Shakespeare 
has Immortalised his name in the historical 
drama of Richard II. He probably held the 

^ Historians may be allowed to differ from Jefferies' 
opinion in this as in other matters noted throughout these 
pages. 



UPPER UPHAM 93 

Upper Upham estate by some form of feudal 
tenure. 

Now it is very evident that the present 
mansion of Upper Upham does not date from 
that remote period. There is a very marked 
alteration in the face of the country imme- 
diately upon leaving Upper Upham. Here, 
perhaps, upon these wild and, to a great extent, 
unenclosed downs, may be seen the nearest 
approach to the ancient state of Britain — wide, 
open campaign country, with clumps of trees 
and forest glades interspersed, once the resort 
and favourite haunt of deer. Beneath, in the 
vale, the country is of an entirely different 
description. There it is rich meadow land, 
looking, from the summit of the downs, like 
one extensive wood, from the numberless trees 
growing in the thick hedges, together with the 
interspersed copses. Here is ridge after ridge 
of down, with an occasional copse, a fir planta- 
tion, clumps of trees, wild glades, and deep 
secluded vales, all open and unenclosed, a rare 
hunting country. Moreover, the down upon the 
south of Upham is to this day known as ^Ald- 

1 Also spslt in old maps, Auburn, Albourn, and 
Aldbourn. 



94 JEFFERIES' LAND 

bourne Chace. Chace Is a well-known word 
meaning wood. Some maps call It the Royal 
Chace ; but the name most commonly used for 
the last two centuries has been Aldbourne 
Chace. There Is a wood there to this day, 
and It Is a favourite meet for hounds — for such 
a length of time do customs exist In England. 
This place, where centuries ago the wild deer 
ran free, except when the hounds were upon 
their track, Is to this day famous for hunting. 
Hence It seems a reasonable conclusion that 
Upper Upham was a hunting-lodge ; much 
such another mansion as that which Is familiar 
to the readers of Sir Walter Scott's Woodstock. 
The building Itself bears out this conjecture. 
So vast a hall could never have been needed 
by a country gentleman, or simple lord of the 
manor, nor are the other portions of the man- 
sion In proportion to It. It Is very evident 
that It was only used on certain occasions when 
the hunt had run this way. But then comes 
the Immediate question — to what forest was 
this a hunting lodge ^ Some say Windsor, but 
the great distance from that place seems to 
offer an almost Insuperable objection. Others 
prefer Savernake, but that forest does not 



UPPER UPHAM 95 

appear to have extended in this direction. 
There remains Braden Forest, which was for- 
merly of enormous extent, and which even at 
the present day is a large wood. Braden 
Forest has this recommendation — it was held 
by the Dukes of Lancaster by some form of 
tenure from the Crown, and here at Upper 
Upham may still be seen the Lancastrian coat 
of arms. The distance is much less than 
Windsor. Braden Wood lies immediately 
below Purton, a little over twelve miles distant, 
Burderop Wood lies three miles distant, almost 
in a direct line. At Burderop there were deer 
no great time ago. Horns are still preserved 
which were shed by the deer of Burderop. At 
any rate there can be but little doubt that 
Upper Upham was a hunting lodge, to what- 
ever forest it may have been attached. 

The present mansion is certainly a more 
modern erection than that which belonged to 
John of Gaunt in the fourteenth century, 
though some of the material with which it is 
constructed may have come from the more 
ancient erection. In the wall of the garden 
may be seen a stone carved with ovals, evi- 
dently never intended for its present position. 



96 JEFFERIES' LAND 

Similar stones are bailt Into the adjoining 
stable. One of them has the letter E cut upon 
it, while the beams of the stable are of black 
oak, and carved ; nor does the stable appear to 
have been ever used for any other purpose 
than that to which it is put at present. These 
stones and beams may have formed part of an 
ancient building, the site of which was some- 
what south of the present mansion. Here, on 
the edge of the hill, may be seen great irregu- 
larities and unevenness in the orround. This 

o 

field still goes by the name of the Rookery, 
though now there is scarcely a tree to be seen 
in it, and the position of the present rookery 
is immediately behind the modern mansion. 
Moreover, on the very edge of the hill, in the 
south-eastern corner of the field, there may still 
be seen a hollow in the ground, of a circular 
shape, which has four well-marked entrances, 
and three tiers, or steps, like a miniature am- 
phitheatre. It is, in short, a cockpit. All this 
would seem to mark the site of an ancient 
building, and more decided testimony is yet 
forthcoming. One old lady, who has now been 
dead many years, but who lived to be ninety, 
and whose memory might, therefore, commence 



UPPER UPHAM 97 

a full century since, used to aver that in her 
youth there still remained the visible ruins of a 
building, two or three feet high, upon or near 
those places now rendered remarkable by the 
unevenness of the ground. There were also 
deep caverns underground — vaults, or cellars — 
in which smugglers were accustomed to con- 
ceal their goods after a run upon the south 
coast. That there are caverns and hollow 
places underground here and near about is a 
known fact. It is remarkable that at the 
present day all the water used for drinking 
purposes here is brought from the village of 
Shap, at some very considerable distance, 
where there is a deep well, with a wheel made 
to revolve by a pony.^ Our ancestors were 
not usually accustomed to place their habita- 
tions where there was no water to be got. 
They always had to face the risk of a siege. 
It is probable that there was a well here some- 
where, though it is now choked and the site 
unknown. There is a tradition that an attempt 
was once made to get water here by sinking a 
well, which attempt, after having been carried 
to a depth of three cart lines, or 1 20 feet, was 

^ Cf. the well at Carisbrooke Castle. 

H 



98 JEFFERIES' LAND 

abandoned, and the excavation walled over. 
Some while afterwards a carter was driving a 
loaded wagon over the spot, utterly ignorant of 
what was beneath, when he was alarmed by a 
horrible noise, felt the ground tremble, dropped 
his whip, and ran for his life. Looking behind 
him, he found that his team and wagon had 
disappeared down a chasm in the earth — the 
old lost well. Later, whilst making a hole 
with an iron bar in the present yard, the bar 
suddenly sank through, and a hazel rod of 
great length having been procured, was let 
down without reaching the bottomx. In the 
vale beneath the ground still known as the 
Rookery, tradition states that there was once 
a magnificent row of oaks extending to the 
village of Aldbourne, and the place to this day 
is known as Fair-Oak Vale. 

Near the present mansion, in a field known 
as the Longfield, on the edge of the hill over- 
looking Aldbourne Warren, there are some 
more unmistakable traces of ancient habitations. 
The ground is very uneven, mounds running 
across it in all directions, though seeming 
chiefly to enclose parallelograms. On one spot 
there grows a large quantity of daffodils, so 



UPPER UPHAM 99 

firmly rooted that it has been found impossible 
to eradicate them. They cover a considerable 
space of ground, and can always be discovered 
on account of the sheep refusing to eat the 
leaves, and treading them under foot. This 
was probably a garden. There does not 
appear to have been any tradition concerning 
this place, whence it may be concluded that if 
habitations were to be found here it was at a 
time long previous to the erection of those 
whose ruins were seen by the old lady who has 
been mentioned. 

Hence there are three different periods, as it 
were, represented at Upper Upham.^ The pre- 

^ Mr. Morris writes, in Swindon Fifty Years Ago : " This, 
then, is what I would suggest as the probable history of 
Upper Upham, and the interesting old mansion there, and 
it vnW be allowed that the suggestion has the advantage of 
admitting the possibility of all the things we have heard 
about the place. That there was a mansion or hunting 
seat which belonged to either King John or John of Gaunt, 
and possibly to both ; that this house fell into ruins ; that 
in 1 54 1 John Goddard, of Aldbourne, acquired the lands 
at Upper Upham on which the ruins were, along with lands 
in Wanborough, Wiclescote, and Wroughton, which lands 
had previously belonged to Lacock Abbey, through a grant 
from the Crown ; and that John Goddard's successor to the 
property, Richard Goddard, built the present house, not 
far from where the old royal hunting seat had stood, and 



100 JEFFERIES' LAND 

sent mansion carries the mind back three cen- 
turies ; the ruins of the Rookery to a time that 
survives only in tradition ; the traces in the 
Longfield to a period of which nothing is 
known, and but Httle conjectured. 

Coins of almost all periods of English his- 
tory have been found upon the Upper Upham 
estate, and are in the possession of the present 
occupier. The Britons are represented by a 
gold coin, whose intrinsic value — that is, as 
simply a piece of gold — is estimated at 135". 6d. 
It is a coin of a very early period, being 
without inscription, and may probably have 
been made before Christ. It is decidedly con- 
cave on one side, and convex on the other. 
The device is in excellent preservation, and 
consists of the rude figure of a horse — much 
like a miniature representation of the sculp- 



using therefore in the building such stones and material as 
was available from the ruins ; and that probably, some 
thirty years afterwards, the entrance porch not satisfying 
the critical eye of Sir Christopher Wren, was altered as it 
now stands in accordance with his designs. I am unable 
to say how long the property remained in the Goddard 
family after 1599, but I believe I am correct in saying it 
was repurchased some years ago by the present representa- 
tive of the family, Mr. A. L. Goddard." 



UPPER UPHAi\n . \ > loi 

. > .■> ' » * 

,'•11 ■> > 

tured horse on the down 'at W6Gilst<kirr^anx;.l 
two chariot wheels, one above and the other 
beneath the horse. A few uncertain flourishes 
are scattered about. These coins are con 
sidered to be rude imitations of the '' Philips," 
issued by the Macedonian monarchs, long be- 
fore Christ, and which went all over Europe. 
These Philips had on one side Apollo driving 
a chariot. British coins have been found 
which illustrate the gradual decline of the 
imitation from the artistic excellence of the 
original to the rudeness of conception which 
characterizes this coin discovered at Upper 
Upham. It may be a coin of the Belgse, men- 
tioned by Richard of Cirencester as a tribe 
holding a large part of Wiltshire, who were 
foreigners arriving in Britain from Gaul before 
the advent of Caesar. 

Two Roman copper coins, with illegible in- 
scriptions, a gold crown of Henry the Eighth, 
one with a large P with two cross-bars, others 
marked with a dragon, a medal of Elizabeth 
with an inscription stating that she was a rose 
without a thorn, and several others of later 
date, have been found here, and are preserved 
together with a very fine barbed arrowhead. 



102 JEFFERIES' LAND 

i^:nD':h^ej* "'Roihan ^eilc i-s also carefully kept. It 
is a brass ornament of a trumpet with an in- 
scription in very primitively formed letters — 
Gaudeamus — that is, '' Let us rejoice." 

The village of Aldbourne (pronounced Aw- 
borne) lies at a short distance from Upper 
Upham. ''Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of 
the plain," is the opening line of Goldsmith's 
''Deserted Village." Aldbourne lies in a plain, 
and it has been thought that this is the spot 
alluded to by the poet,^ who allows that the 
misery he sings of only existed in his imagina- 
tion. Aldbourne is a very ancient place. John 
of Gaunt gave a charter to Aldbourne, in which 
he gave eighty acres to the poor of the parish, 
which exists to this day in much the same state 
as it may be supposed to have been then — wild 
and uncultivated. Aldbourne was once famous 

^ This is only a fancy. Auburn was a mere name, 
which may have referred to Lissoy, Co. Westmeath, but in 
all probability referred to a place which only existed in the 
poet's imagination. Macaulay says : " The village, in its 
happy days, is a true English village; the village in its 
decay is an Irish village. The felicity and the misery 
which Goldsmith has brought together belong to two 
different countries, and to two different stages in the pro- 
gress of society." There is nothing in this locality to lend 
colour to Jefferies' theory. 



UPPER UPHAM 103 

for its bell foundry ; but this is a thing of the 
past. A fine set of bells cast here is in the 
church tower. Old Swindon chime is said to 
have been cast at Aldbourne. Aldbourne 
Warren was once a famous place for rabbits. It 
was let out and rented like a farm. In winter, 
in frosty weather, it was often found necessary 
to take a wagon load of hay out, which the 
rabbits would follow by the thousand, like a 
flock of sheep, and no sooner was it flung 
down than it was devoured. Aldbourne rabbits 
were in great favour in the London markets, 
and rabbits are said to be still sold there under 
that name, though perhaps in reality no rabbit 
has been sent there in the present century from 
Aldbourne. 

The following extract from Lord Claren- 
don's history of the Rebellion relates to Ald- 
bourne Chace : — 

** So that the Earl of Essex was march'd 
with his whole army and train from Tewkes- 
bury, four-and-twenty hours before the King 
heard which way he was gone ; for he took 
advantage of a dark night, and having sure 
Guides, reached Ciciter before the breaking of 
the day ; where he found two regiments of the 



I04 JEFFERIES' LAND 

King's horse quartered securely ; all which, by 
the negligence of the officers (a common and 
fatal crime throughout the War, on the King's 
part), he surprised, to the number of above 
three hundred ; and, which was of much 
greater value, he found there a great quantity 
of provisions, prepared by the King's commis- 
saries for the army before Gloster, and which 
they neglected to remove after the siege was 
raised, and so most sottishly left it for the relief 
of the enemy, far more apprehensive of hunger 
than of the sword ; and indeed this wonderful 
supply strangely exalted their spirits, as sent 
by the special care and extraordinary hand of 
Providence, even when they were ready to 
faint. 

*' From hence the Earl, having no farther 
apprehension of the King's horse, which he 
had no mind to encounter upon the open Cam- 
pania, and being at the least twenty miles 
before him, by easy marches, that his sick and 
wearied soldiers might overtake him, moved, 
through that deep and enclosed country of 
North Wiltshire, his direct way to London. 
As soon as the King had sure notice which 
way the enemy was gone, he endeavoured by 



UPPER UPHAM 105 

expedition and diligence to recover the advan- 
tage which the supine negligence of those he 
had trusted had robbed him of; and himself, 
with matchless industry, taking care to lead up 
the foot, prince Rupert with near five thousand 
horse, march'd day and night over the hills to 
get between London and the enemy, before 
they should be able to get out of those en- 
closed deep countries, in which they were 
engaged between narrow lanes, and to enter- 
tain them with skirmishes till the whole army 
should come up. This design, pursued and 
executed with indefatigable pains, succeeded to 
his wish ; for when the van of the enemy's 
army had almost marched over Awborne 
Chase, intending that night to have reach'd 
Newbury, prince Rupert, besides their fear or 
expectation, appear'd with a strong body of 
horse so near them, that before they could put 
themselves in order to receive him, he charged 
their rear, and routed them with good execu- 
tion ; and though the enemy performed the 
parts of good men, and applied themselves 
more dexterously to the relief of each other 
than on so sudden and unlook'd for an occa- 
sion was expected, yet, with some difficulty and 



io6 JEFFERIES' LAND 

the loss of many men, they were glad to 
shorten their journey, and, the night coming 
on, took up their quarters at Hungerford. 

"In this conflict, which was very sharp for 
an hour or two, many fell of the enemy, and of 
the King's party none of name but the marquis 
of Vieu Ville, a gallant gentleman of the 
French nation, who had attended the Queen 
out of Holland, and put himself as a volunteer 
upon this action into the lord Jermin's regi- 
ment. There were hurt many officers, and 
among those the lord Jermin received a shot 
in his arm with a pistol, owing the preserva- 
tion of his life from other shots to the excellent 
temper of his armour ; and the lord DIgby, a 
strange hurt in the face, a pistol being dis- 
charged at so near a distance upon him that 
the powder fetch'd much blood from his face, 
and for the present blinded him without 
further mischleve ; by which it was concluded 
that the bullet had dropped out before the 
pistol was discharged. And it may be 
reckoned amongst one of those escapes, of 
which that gallant person hath passed a greater 
number in the course of his life than any man 
I know." 



UPPER UPHAM 107 

This skirmish in"Awborne Chace"so delayed 
the Earl of Essex that the King was enabled 
to come up, when ensued the battle of New- 
bury/ A memento of those bloody times was 
picked up in Aldbourne Chace, not long since, 
in the shape of a cannon ball, thought to weigh 
about 8 lbs. A boy more lately made a very 
fortunate discovery in the same Chace. He 
saw something glitter upon the ground, picked 
it up, and found it was a coin, which he sup- 
posed was a very old shilling. On further 
investigation he discovered nearly two hundred 
similar coins, and carried them home in a sack. 
These coins are said to be of the reign of King 
Charles ; hence they were probably hidden in 
the Chace about the time of the Civil Wars. 

^ September 20th, 1643. 



CHAPTER V 

LIDDINGTON WICK— THE LONDON AND 
FARINGDON ROAD IN 1866 

THE direct road to London from Swindon 
passes through Coate. Shortly after 
leaving that village, there may be seen at a 
little distance upon the left hand a long, low- 
roofed, ancient slated farm-building, known as 
Liddington Wick. It is now in the occupation 
of Mr. Reeves,^ and is conspicuous for a great 
way, on account of a magnificent yew growing 
immediately before the house. Tradition states 
that Liddington Wick was once a Roman 
Catholic chapel or oratory, though to what 
monastery or nunnery it belonged is not said. 
It is evidently an ancient building, from the 
thickness of the walls, and that it was not 
originally destined for the purpose to which it 
is applied may be inferred from the fact that in 

^ Its present occupant is Mr. J. Smith. 



■A 



LIDDINGTON WICK 109 

the memory of man the front door resembled 
that of a church — heavy, and studded with 
nails. Moreover, the drawing-room contains a 
carved ceiling, cut in plaster of Paris or some 
similar material, which is said to be unique of 
its kind, and is of considerable antiquity. This 
ceiling was originally picked out in blue and 
gold, but is now a plain white. The pattern is 
that which is known in embroidery as the 
wheel. Liddington Wick is interesting, since it 
appears to be almost the only remaining vestige 
of Roman Catholic times in this neighbourhood. 
One version of the tradition makes it a nunnery. 
The fine yew immediately before the door 
gives it still a sombre appearance, suitable for 
a house used for religious purposes. This tree 
may date from the days of the nuns. It is 
evidently some centuries old. Before the man- 
sion there is a field known as the home field. 
Through it the footpath to Lower Wanborough 
passes. Here there are unmistakable traces of 
ancient habitations, the ground being full of 
irregularities. While digging drains here coins 
were found, stated to be Roman. Liddington 
Wick is a place of great antiquity, and has 
been inhabited from time immemorial. A field 



no JEFFERIES' LAND 

near by here affords a curious fact to the lovers 
of natural history. It is covered with what 
appears at first sight simply small turfy and 
thymy hillocks of earth, but which turn out 
upon investigation to be ant-hills, placed so 
close together that it is possible by springing 
from one to the other to pass from one side of 
the ground to the other without setting foot on 
the level earth. These hillocks represent the 
industry of millions — countless myriads — of 
ants, continued, no doubt, for years, since the 
fields seem to have presented this appearance 
from time immemorial. 

Liddington Wick is the outlying habitation 
of the ancient village of Liddington. Lidding- 
ton is a well-known place. It has figured in 
novels ere now. A Mrs. May, the wife of a 
former rector of Liddington, combined the 
legends of Liddington into a tale of fiction 
some twenty years ago, and issued it to the 
public under the title of The Abbess of Shaftes- 
bury, which work made a great noise in the 
neighbourhood at the date of its publication, 
but has now become rare. The plot circles 
round Liddington Manor-house. This mansion 
lies at the extremity — the mouth — of a narrow. 



LIDDINGTON WICK in 

winding vale, sheltered from the north-easterly 
winds by the downs, and has a beautiful view 
of the vale beneath from the western windows. 
A spring rising near forms some large ponds, 
which give the place the appearance of being 
surrounded with water, while a rookery and an 
ancient water-wheel add to the old English look 
of the place. It is certainly the most romantic- 
ally-situated mansion in the neighbourhood. 
The many-gabled roofs and mullioned windows 
proclaim its antiquity. It has been described 
as Elizabethan, and such may be the style of 
the building, but the inscription upon the 
chimney-top is A. V. 1670. C. V., at which date 
Charles II. was upon the English throne. 
Here are supposed to take place the main 
incidents in The Abbess of Shaftesbury, which 
also contains allusions to John of Gaunt and 
his mansion of Upper Upham. Liddington 
Manor-house was well known to all the neigh- 
bourhood as the residence of the venerable Mr. 
Brind. A carved mantelpiece here is said to 
be of great age. 

Liddington Church contains two tombs 
which have caused much discussion in anti- 
quarian circles. They are side by side, placed 



112 JEFFERIES' LAND 

near the present vestry-room, and are In 
memory of some departed dignitaries of the 
church, as is evident from the foliated crosses. 
There is neither inscription nor date. Tradi- 
tion says they are the tombs of the Abbot and 
Abbess of the suppressed Abbey of Shaftes- 
bury. Liddington, then, in all probability, 
once belonged to that ancient monastery. Lid- 
dington Wick may have had some connection 
with it also. Liddington Church is a prebendal 
church. 

High above the village towers Liddington 
Hill, well known to dwellers in the locality, 
and conspicuous to all from the Folly, or group 
of trees at one end, and the well-marked 
'* castle," or entrenchment, at the other. Lid- 
dington Camp is usually considered as Roman, 
but it may nevertheless have afforded defence 
to both Briton and Roman, Saxon and Dane. 
It is of great extent, and somewhat of a square 
form- — probably the largest in North Wilts. 
Each side may measure tv/o hundred yards. 
This camp was placed upon a very command- 
ing spot. The view from here is magnificent. 
Flint-digging has been carried on within the 
entrenchment, and resulted in the discovery of 



LIDDINGTON WICK 113 

numerous coins, said to be Roman, spear-heads 
and arrow-heads, together with pieces of rusty 
iron, now of no particular form, but supposed 
to be broken sword-blades. Here also was 
found a kind of bodkin with a square head, 
engraved with characters. Liddington Camp 
consists of only one fosse, which is, however, 
of great depth. It is very evident that this 
place was never thrown up by a passing army 
for a night's defence — it is too kirge and sub- 
stantial. It was probably a station, and well 
garrisoned. The Ridge Way, an ancient 
British road, runs at the foot of the hill ; and 
the Ickleton Way passes through Badbury and 
Chisledon almost immediately beneath. A 
memento of battle-fields, fought in days long 
after those of spear and arrow-head, is said to 
have been picked up upon this hill in the shape 
of a cannon ball. It was probably sent upon 
its errand of destruction in the times of the 
Civil War. 

The road to Farlngdon branches off from the 
London road at Liddington, and passes through 
Wanborough. Wanborough is a place of great 
antiquity, and played a distinguished part in 
the early history of England. '' a.d. 592," 

I 



114 JEFFERIES' LAND 

writes Ethelwerd,^ '* there was a great slaughter 
on both sides, at a place called Wodnesbyrg, 
so that Ceawlin was put to flight, and died at 
the end of one more year." Ceawlin was a 
Saxon king of Wessex. He It was who, in 
conjunction with Cenric, another Saxon chief, 
routed a British army near Barbury. His life 
seems to have been spent In one continued 
round of fighting, in which he was generally 
successful, until this fatal battle of Wanborough. 
Fuller accounts state that he had contrived to 
make himself obnoxious both to the Britons 
and Saxons, who joined their forces and de- 
feated him. This was over twelve centuries 
ago. The same chronicler states that "a.d. 
715 Ina and Ceolred (Ceolric ?) fought against 
those who opposed them in arms at Wothnes- 
beorghge," ^ that is, Wanborough.^ Wan- 



^ Ethelwerd dedicated his work to, and wrote it for the 
use of his relation, Matilda, daughter of Otho the Great, 
Emperor of Germany, by his first Empress Editha, who is 
mentioned in the Saxon Chron., a.d. 925. His chronicle 
is called, " The Chronicle of Fabius Ethelwerd, from the 
beginning of the world to the year of our Lord 975.' 

^ Wodnesburie = Wodensburgh (?). 

3 " Dr. Guest remarked that the great highways of Wes- 
sex all converge on Wanborough." — Worth. 



LIDDINGTON WICK 115 

borough has, then, witnessed at least two severe 
contests. Somewhat more than a mile from 
Lower Wanborough, near Stratton St. Mar- 
garet, is a place known as Wanborough Nythe. 
This may have been once a Roman station, 
the site of which was upon Covenham Farm, 
near to the edge of the Nythe brook. Numer- 
ous remnants of the Roman occupation have 
been found here — chiefly coins.^ It is recorded 
that in the year 1689 as many as sixteen 
hundred or two thousand coins were dis- 
covered here in a single vessel. They were 
no doubt of various descriptions, but it is stated 
that they were Roman, and none of a later date 
than Commodus. Commodus became Em- 
peror of the Roman Empire about 180 a.d. 
An ancient Roman road runs close by, coming 
from the direction of Wanborough, and going 
towards Cricklade and Cirencester. It is re- 
markably straight. The word Nythe is thought 
to be a corruption of the Latin Nidus, which 
might perhaps mean home, or station, an in- 
habited spot. 

In Domesday Book Wanborough is written 
Wembergh. It was held by the Bishop of 

^ And pottery. 



ii6 JEFFERIES' LAND 

Winchester for the support of the minster. In 
the days of Henry II., who reigned from 1154 
to 1 189, It belonged to William Longespee, 
then Earl of Sarum, or Salisbury. The brother 
of this earl was, In the thirteenth year of Henry 
III., Justiciary of Ireland. Wanborough be- 
came his by gift from the Earl of Sarum, in 
the year 1245, on the condition that it was 
to be held under Longespee's descendants. 
Stephen, Justiciary of Ireland, got, in 1252, a 
grant enabling him to hold a market and fair 
at Wanborough. He died in 1260. Wan- 
borough then fell to his widow Emmeline, 
called the Countess of Ulster, by right of a 
former husband, and to his two daughters, Ela 
and another Emmeline. Ela was the wife of 
Roger le Louche, and had a son Alan. Em- 
meline was married to one Maurice Fitz 
Maurice, but left no issue. Alan, however, 
had a daughter and heiress, Matilda, who be- 
came the spouse of Robert de Holand. A 
grand-daughter of theirs, called Lady Wan- 
borough, brought the place, by marriage, to 
John, fifth Baron Lovel of Titchmarsh. This 
was in the year 1375. From him descended 
Francis, Viscount Lovel, the favourite of 



LIDDINGTON WICK u; 

Richard III., of whom more presently. Francis 
left no issue, and was attainted in 1487. From 
that year to a.d. 15 15 the manor was held by 
John Cheyne, Knight. Cheyne is a name still 
known in North Wilts. There is a village 
near Swindon called Rodbourne Cheyne. It 
is a name known to the readers of Scott. 
Elspeth in The Antiqtiary sings several old 
ballads about a gallant Roland Cheyne : 

" To turn the rein were sin and shame, 
To fight were wonderous peril ; 
What would'st thou do now, Roland Cheyne, 
Wert thou Glenallan's earl ? " 

Roland Cheyne is all for fighting, though the 
odds of numbers be immense against them. 
After Sir John Cheyne, the manor of Wan- 
borough was enjoyed by Sir Edward Darell, of 
Littlecote. He was owner at the date of his 
death in 1549. A grandson of his sold it to 
Sir Humphrey Forster, of Aldermaston, about 
1665. Afterwards, in Queen Anne's reign, it 
was purchased from Sir Charles Hedges by 
Samuel Sharp, Esq., of Bath. 

In the days of Edward I., Sewale d'Oseville 
and Fitz-Geoffrey were great men at W^an- 
borough. Under them were Foliott, Turnville, 



ii8 JEFFERIES' LAND 

and others. Wroughton was a name which 
had some connection with Wanborough in the 
reign of Henry IV. Brynd is a Wanborough 
name. Thomas Brynd was here in 1665. He 
was the patron of the rectory of Stanton Fitz- 
warren. A Brynd was murdered here in 1571. 
J. Goddard had a grant in Wanborough and 
Upham in the days of the burly monarch, 
Henry VHI. There is a long list of noble 
names, celebrated in their day, which once had 
some connection with Wanborough. How 
little is remembered of them there now ! Aubrey 
visited Wanborough, as he did so many other 
places in North Wilts, nearly two centuries 
since, note-book in hand. Here is a curious 
extract from his memoranda: '' Wanboro'. 
Here is a Latt Mead celebrated yearly with 
great ceremony. The lord weareth a garland 
of flowers ; the mowers at one house have 
always a pound of beef and a head of garlic 
every man . . . with many other customs 
still retayned. It is sufficiently well known to 
the neighbouring gentry for revelling and horse- 
racing." 

What was meant by a *' Latt Mead " can 
now only be conjectured. It is supposed to 



LIDDINGTON WICK 119 

have been a ceremony which originated when 
Britain was partially a wild, unenclosed, and 
uncultivated country. The enclosing of a 
piece of ground would in such times be an 
event to the neighbourhood, and likely to be 
commemorated by a festival, or mumming. 
There are many meadows hereabout known 
as Lot Meads. The character which Aubrey 
gives Wanborough is still retained ; Wan- 
borough is still a well-known place for revel- 
ling, though horse-racing seems to have 
declined. Aubrey elsewhere mentions a tra- 
dition that a moat which was shown him at 
Wanborough originally surrounded a mansion 
once inhabited by the famous Francis Lovel, 
the favourite of Richard III. The mansion 
had disappeared even then. Who does not 
remember the rhyme — which, by-the-bye, cost 
its composer his life : 

" The rat, the cat, and Lovel the dog, 
Rule all England under the Hog," 

alluding to King Richard's crest, which was a 
boar's head, and to his ministers, Ratcliffe, 
Catesby, and Lovel. This moat was in a 
field called Court Close, or Cold Close. A 



120 JEFFERIES' LAND 

moat, which is supposed to be the same seen 
by Aubrey, Is still very plainly perceivable 
at Lower Wanborough. It is now dry, and 
partially surrounds a farmhouse occupied by 
Mrs. Thorn. A curious discovery was made 
in the garden of this farmhouse by Mr. H. 
Thorn, who was digging potatoes, when his 
spade struck against something, and turned up 
a quantity of mosaic-work — or what was called 
mosaic-work — on which the form of a dog was 
depicted. Beneath this was a leaden coffin, 
extremely thin, and corroded with age. On 
being opened it was found to contain a skele- 
ton, supposed to be that of a woman. This 
has been pronounced a Roman interment by 
some ; others assign it to a later date. Leaden 
coffins were much used by the Romans, but 
were not confined to them. This had evi- 
dently been In the earth for a great period of 
time, on account of its extreme thinness ; so 
that the sides fell in on attempting to move 
it. The teeth in the skull were still perfect. 
There is a tradition that the moat was once 
crossed by means of a copper {^) drawbridge, 
close to the entrance to the present farmhouse. 
In the memory of man another field, now 



^^ 



■1- 






/,; ,. f * 




t # 3= 



,*SVj* 5 ^ 






r. 

2 






LIDDINGTON WICK 121 

known as the Warnedges, contained ruins, 
supposed to be those of an ancient mansion. 
They have now disappeared. They had then 
an ill name, on account of a murder committed 
there. 

Wanborough Church is a peculiar structure. 
It has both a square tower and a spire — one 
at either end, and of about equal height.^ 
It is a very ancient erection. The tower bears 
the date of 1435 — more than four centuries 
since. The same form of church architecture 
may be seen at Purton. Wanborough was 
visited by Captain Symonds, of King Charles's 
army, in 1644. 

After leaving Wanborough, the Faringdon 
or Wantage road runs along the edge of the 
down to Hinton, allowing a beautiful view of 
the Vale of Shrivenham. Hinton Church, 
some time since, was taken possession of by 
a swarm of bees, which it was found im- 
possible to dislodge, and so much did the 
bees annoy the congregation, that service was 
held in the porch during the summer. From 

^ According to the story, there was a dispute between the 
two sisters who built the church on the subject of Tower 
versus Spire. This was how they settled it. 



122 JEFFERIES' LAND 

HInton the road winds away to Bishop, or 
BIshopstone, a large and pleasant village. 
The church contains a remarkably fine arched 
door in the chancel, which Is of great anti- 
quity. Aubrey came to BIshopstone. He ob- 
serves that the church windows were broken by 
the soldiers In the Civil Wars — probably by the 
army of the Earl of Essex, in its retreat through 
Wiltshire towards London. Aubrey also re- 
marks that they had here a '' Hocker Bench." 
How this custom originated, or, indeed, what 
it consisted of here, seems unknown — lost in 
a dim antiquity. In other places it appears 
to have been a kind of game, which consisted 
In running after strangers or passers-by, snar- 
ing them in a rope, and not allowing them to 
proceed until they had paid a forfeit. Here, 
also, says Aubrey, was a *' Paradise" or Sanc- 
tuary — a place wherein It was reported men 
were free from arrest. At BIshopstone there 
was recently a very ancient mansion, but it 
is now pulled down. BIshopstone Is a famous 
place for ducks and watercress. 

Ashbury, the next village, is a very ancient 
place. It was formerly spelt Asshebury, and 
Is mentioned in a Charter of King Edred of 



LIDDINGTON WICK 123 

the date 947 a.d., as situated upon the ex- 
tremity of Ashedoune (now Ashdown), which 
then seems to have been the name of a dis- 
trict, but is now that of a single down or hill. 
Icknield Street (a Roman road) runs through 
Ashbury, and winding round the brow of 
the adjacent down, passes immediately under 
White Horse Hill. It has been conjectured 
that the Icknield Street was so named from 
being constructed or repaired by the Roman 
general Agricola, who was in Britain about 
the year 80 a.d., the letters *'a" and ''g" 
being dropped, and the name otherwise cor- 
rupted in the course of so many centuries.^ 
At any rate, there can be no doubt that this 
road once echoed to the tramp of the Roman 
legions. 

The next village to Ashbury is Woolston. 
It is said that Woolston is a shortened form 
of Wulferithstone, a great Saxon chief, who 
lived in the days of King Alfred, and was 
rewarded for efficient services rendered to that 
monarch with the present of some land here- 

1 "Iken.yld.strset. A Roman road in England, so-called 
because it passed through the Iceni, or Norfolk, Suffolk, 
etc." — Bosworth. 



124 JEFFERIES' LAND 

about. Wulferithstone seems to have been 
Duke of Hampshire, and to have died a.d. 
897. The village of Woolston lies exactly at 
the foot of the White Horse Hill, just at the 
mouth of that steep-sided, narrow valley which, 
commencing below the sculptured form of the 
white horse, goes by the name of the White 
Horse Manger. This sculptured white horse ^ 
is of gigantic size, and is represented at full 
gallop. It may be seen fourteen or fifteen 
miles off, it being formed by cutting away the 
turf down to the white chalk. The length 
from the eye to the commencement of the 

^ The White Horses. 

" The White Horse at Uffington would appear to be the 
great sire and prototype of all. Tradition ascribes it to 
Alfred (871). 

'"'■ Bratton Hill Horse^ near Westbury. Again ascribed 
to Alfred, after Ethandun. Repaired and partially re-cut, 
1778. [Also repaired in 1873, at a cost of £,^o.\ 

" Cher hi II Horse, close to reputed Danish camp of Old- 
borough, but cut in 1780. The scouring done by the Lord 
of the Manor. 

" Small horse at Miwlboroiigh, on the hill behind Pre- 
shute. Cut by Mr. Greasley's schoolboys, 1804. 

" Pewsey Valley Horse, southern slope of Marlborough 
Downs, in the parish of Alton Berners. Cut 18 12 by John 
Harvey. Smaller insignificant horses at Winterbourne Bas- 
sett, Roundway Hill (Devizes), and Broad Town, near 
Wootton Bassett." — Wilts Magazine. 






LIDDINGTON WICK 125 

tail is nearly eighty yards, and the tail itself 
reaches forty-eight yards. Tradition asserts 
that it was made by order of King Alfred, to 
commemorate his victory over the Danes at 
i^scdun, in the year 871. A white horse was 
the standard of the Saxons, as a raven was 
that of the Danes. Tacitus relates that the 
Germans held white horses in the highest 
veneration, and drew predictions of the future 
from their neighs or motions ; just as the 
ancient Egyptians did from the bull-god Apis. 
White horses among the Romans were sacred 
to the sun. There would be, then, nothing 
improbable in the Saxons carving the emblem 
which they bore on their standards as a me- 
morial of their victory. Tradition further states 
that a custom was instituted of scouring the 
horse — that is, clearing away the turf which 
had accumulated once in so many years — a 
kind of Saxon Olympiad, the length of which 
appears to be now unknown. Certain it is 
that the custom has survived until the present 
day, although performed at very irregular in- 
tervals. On such occasions a feast or fair is 
held in the intrenchment upon the summit of 
the White Horse Hill. Last time the huge 



126 JEFFERIES' LAND 

wagons of Wombwell's Menagerie were dragged 
up. A cheese, by tradition, ought to be rolled 
down the slope of the White Horse Manger, 
to be run down after by those venturesome 
enough to risk their necks ; but a cart-wheel 
was started at the last scouring, and the cheese 
preserved whole and sound, to be presented to 
the racer who first touched the wheel after its 
descent. One of the racers on this occasion, 
instead of running, jumped at starting and 
rolled headlong down — a most dangerous feat, 
which might have cost him his life. Several 
other amusing customs used to be put in prac- 
tice, which are to be found described at length 
in a very pleasant style in the Scouring of the 
White Horsey s. work published some time 
since. 

^scdun or Esc'sdune, now Ashdown, was 
early a place of importance, as is evident by 
its being so frequently mentioned by the old 
chroniclers. Ethelwerd alludes to it a.d. 648, 
661, and 871. In the year 871, according to 
Asser, the Saxons, having been driven from 
Reading by the Danes, re-assembled their 
forces four days afterwards under King Ethel- 
red and his brother Alfred. The pagan army 



LIDDINGTON WICK 127 

of Danes occupied the "higher ground" — 
probably the present intrenchment on the 
summit of the down — the " Christians," or 
Saxons, divided their army into two portions, 
one under King Ethelred, and the other 
under Alfred. The pagans had also divided 
their forces into two ; one commanded by 
their kings, and the other by five earls. The 
Saxons arranged that their king, Ethelred, 
should attack the Danish monarchs, and Alfred 
the earls. One night is said to have been 
spent encamped — the Danes above on Esc's- 
dune, or Ashdown, i.e. *' the hill of the 
ash," King Ethelred with his division in 
Hardwell Camp, which still remains imme- 
diately above Woolston, and is defended by 
two fosses. Alfred lay near the present wood 
of Ashdown, in a slighter intrenchment, prob- 
ably thrown up for the occasion ; some vestiges 
of which still remaining are known as Alfred's 
Camp. On the morrow King Ethelred en- 
gaged in prayer, and refused to set on until 
he had heard mass. Meantime the pagans 
poured down the hill, placing Alfred in such 
a position that he must either charge without 
waiting for his brother or else retreat. 



128 JEFFERIES' LAND 

" At length he bravely led his troops against 
the enemy," entirely unsupported, and Chris- 
tians and pagans mingled in battle. A single 
hawthorn tree grew upon the slope — there are 
some near now — and around this tree was 
waged the thickest of the battle. It seems to 
have been undecided until Ethelred, having 
finished his devotions, came up with his fol- 
lowers, when the Danes were immediately 
routed, and fled towards Reading. " All the 
flower of the barbarian youth was there 
slain," says Ethelwerd, "so that never before 
nor since was ever such destruction known 
since the Saxons gained Britain by their 
arms." There fell of the Danes, King Bagsac, 
Earl Sidrac the elder, and Earl Sidrac the 
younger, Earl Osbern, Earl Frene, and Earl 
Harold. 

Away to the east of White Horse Hill, the 
direction in which the battle rolled, may still 
be seen seven barrows, supposed to be the 
burial-places of those who fell in the engage- 
ment. Close behind the Ridge Way road, about 
a mile from the brow of Ashdown, may be 
seen a cromlech, by some thought to be the 
sepulchre of the above-mentioned King Bag- 



3 







)' 



^*^'^«s^ 



1 ■'!' 



'41; 



■1^ 










o 
u 



o 



o 

Q 

z 

c/} 



Z 



I 



LIDDINGTON WICK 129 

sac ; it being a Danish custom to Inter their 
nobility in such a manner. This monument is 
now hidden in a beech-copse, and consists of 
three stones set on edge, supporting a fourth — 
a broad covering-stone. More are scattered 
round, forming an oval. Altogether, there are 
now about thirty stones here which are 
visible. It has much the appearance of an 
altar. Sacrifices may have been offered to the 
deceased Dane. Some think it a work of the 
Druids. It is evidently very ancient, being 
mentioned in a Saxon charter as a landmark. 
The country people call it Wayland Smith's 
cave, and tell a story of an Invisible smith, 
who shoed travellers' horses, on condition of 
their laying a groat upon the altar-stone, and 
then retiring out of sight — whistling when 
hid, as a signal, and leaving the horse near. 
Presently there would be a tinkling of ham- 
mers, and on returning to the spot the horse 
would be found shod and no one In sight. 
This legend came under the notice of Sir 
Walter Scott, who is said to have visited the 
place. He has embodied it in the novel of 
Kcnihvorth, The legend is thought to have 
originated in a Danish superstition concerning 

K 



I30 JEFFERIES' LAND 

spirits who dwelt in rocks, and were cunning 
workmen in iron and steel. 

The memory of King Alfred still lies here. 
His bugle-horn is shown at a wayside inn 
called the '* Blowing-Stone," about a mile 
from the White Horse Hill. It is a large 
Sarsden, with many holes, one of which, being 
blown through, causes a noise which may be 
heard at a great distance. 

Uffington, a village near by, is thought to 
be a corruption of Ubba's meadow-town. 
Ubba, or Offa, was a celebrated king in the 
time of the Heptarchy. Some have supposed 
it to be Glevum, a Roman station mentioned 
in the Itineraries. 

Immediately beneath the figure of the horse 
is a conical mound, or barrow, known as the 
Dragon's mound ; from a tradition that here 
St. George slew the dragon, whose blood was 
of so poisonous a nature that nothing has since 
grown upon its summit, which is bare, expos- 
ing the chalk. Here, so it is supposed, fell 
one of the Pen-dragons of the British, their 
chief of chiefs, whom their ordinary kings 
elected to lead them against the Saxons, and 
whose name, abridged of the "pen," may 



LIDDINGTON WICK 131 

have had some share in the legend. Natan- 
leod, or Nazan-leod, a name meaning the same 
as Pen-dragon, was slain in these parts, say 
the chroniclers, with 5,000 British under him, 
about the year 550, by Cedric the Saxon. 
This barrow may have been raised over his 
remains, as was the British custom. 

Wantage, formerly Wanating, was the birth- 
place of the renowned King Alfred, who was 
born here, according to Asser, in 849 — over a 
thousand years ago. It was a royal residence 
then. The Saxon palace stood on a place 
called High Garden. Roman remains have 
been found at Wantage in a place known as 
Limborough. Coins also have been found 
there. In the last century a place was dis- 
covered to which the name of "Alfred's cellar" 
was given. It was bricked, and appeared to 
have been a bath. Wherever the Romans went, 
there they built baths, if it were possible. In 
a place like Wantage — whose hero is Alfred — 
anything that savoured of antiquity would be 
ascribed to that renowned monarch. Wantage 
is in Berks, "which county," writes Asser, 
" has its name from the wood of Berroc, where 
the box tree grows most abundantly." 



CHAPTER VI 

THE MARLBOROUGH ROAD 

THERE are two distinct roads from Swin- 
don to Marlborough, on both of which 
may be found objects of antiquarian interest, 
one known as Marlborough Lane, the other as 
Coate Road. Coate is at a distance of about 
a mile and a half from the town, and has been 
much visited on account of the reservoir. The 
etymology of the name would seem to make it 
a place of considerable antiquity, being pro- 
bably derived from the Anglo-Saxon cot, a 
cottage, or dwelling-place. In Percy's Reliques 
of Ancient Poetiy there is an old ballad written 
by Michael Drayton, and published about 1592, 
in one of his Pastorals, which contains the 
following verse. The ballad is called *' Dow- 
sabell," and a shepherd-swain is complaining of 

the coldness of his fair one : 

132 











e 
o 

o 



THE MARLBOROUGH ROAD 133 

" My coate, sayeth he, nor yet my foulde 
Shall neither sheep nor shepheard hould, 
Except thou favour me." 

The glossary affixed to the end of the 
volume has *' Coate, cot, or cottage." The 
spelling, it will be observed, is identical with 
that by which the village is now represented. 
The '* coate," or cot, was the residence of the 
" shepheard." His pathetic appeal was not 
unsuccessful : — 

*' With that she bent her snow-white knee 
Downe by the shepheard kneeled shee, 

And him she sweetely kist ; 
With that the shepheard whooped for joy, 
Quoth he, ' Ther's never shepheard's boy, 

That ever was so blist.' " 

The broad country pronunciation, however, 
makes it Cawt, which does not sound like Cot, 
or Cote. This more approaches the Welsh 
w^ord cwt, a hovel. Now the Welsh language 
is that of the ancient Britons. If this deriva- 
tion be correct, Coate would date back to 
them.^ There is some reason for supposing 

^ Though hitherto " unknown to fame," future students 
of English literature will not be likely to forget that Richard 
Jefferies was born, and lived the greater part of his life, at 
Coate. 



134 JEFFERIES' LAND 

that the village was once more extensive than 
at present, and that it could show a church. 
From time immemorial a cow-pen upon land 
in the occupation of Mr. H. Brunsden has 
gone by the name of church-pen. The reason 
is obvious. Here are six pillars about eight 
feet high, by two in diameter, circular, and 
formed of hewn stone. At present they simply 
support the roof of a shed ; but it does not 
seem probable that such substantial pillars were 
originally erected for this purpose. They are 
nearly east and west. Bones, it is said, have 
been dug up in the adjacent ground, but such 
testimony is very unreliable until examined by 
a person learned in anatomy. The road from 
Coate makes a wide semi-circle round to Chisle- 
don. Day-house Lane cuts off the angle, and 
was formerly much used, until the road was 
widened and macadamised. There may be 
seen on the left side of Day-house Lane, 
exactly opposite the entrance to a pen on Day- 
house Farm,^ five Sarsden stones, much sunk 
in the ground, but forming a semi-circle of 
which the lane is the base-line or tangent. 

^ The early home of Richard Jefferies' wife. 




nil s 



THE MARLBOROUGH ROAD 135 

There was a sixth upon the edge of the lane, 
but it was blown up and removed, in order to 
make the road more serviceable, a few years 
ago. Whether this was or was not one of 
those circles known as Druidical, cannot now be 
determined, but it wears that appearance. It 
would seem that the modern lane had cut right 
through the circle, destroying all vestige of one 
half of it. In the next field, known as the 
Plain, lies, near the footpath across the fields to 
Chisledon, another Sarsden of enormous size, 
with two smaller satellites of the same stone 
close by. If the semi-circle just spoken of 
was a work of the Druids, or of the descrip- 
tion known as Druidical, which some think a 
very different thing, it may be just possible 
that these detached stones in the Plain had 
some connection with it. 

A little further up the same line is a place 
known as Badbury Wick. Wick is an old 
Saxon word having a loose meaning, but gene- 
rally indicating a habitation. Here, on the 
left-hand in a field, there are deep and wide 
grass-grown fosses, having a remarkable like- 
ness to a moat. A moat does not of necessity 
denote the position of a fortified building. In 



136 JEFFERIES' LAND 

Roman Catholic times — three centuries since 
and more — when fish was the diet of all who 
could get it at certain periods of the year, a 
moat would answer a double purpose — that of 
defence, and that of a fish pond. Badbury 
lies partly upon the side of a hill and partly in 
a deep valley. There is a large elm tree in 
the middle of the village ; here stood the stocks 
within the memory of man, and a small portion 
still remains. Badbury is a very ancient vil- 
lage, and dates from the Saxon times at least. 
One enthusiastic antiquarian of the last century 
was of the opinion that here, or upon the hill 
immediately above it — well known as Lidding- 
ton Hill and famous for its camp — was the 
identical spot where the renowned King Arthur 
won his twelfth battle in the year 520, or 
thereabout. If this conjecture be true, Bad- 
bury was a known place more than thirteen 
centuries since. According to Nennius,^ the 
ancient British historian, it was even longer 
ago than this. About the middle of the fifth 

^ Nennius, the supposed author of Historia Britonum^ 
bringing the chronicle to 655 a.d. He is said to have been 
a Welsh monk at Bangor, but all so-called facts about him 
are open to as much question as is his history. 



THE MARLBOROUGH ROAD 137 

century he writes thus : '' There it was that the 
magnanimous Arthur, with all the kings and 
military force of Britain, fought against the 
Saxons.^ And although there were many more 
noble than himself, yet he was twelve times 
their commander, and was as often conqueror." 
Giving the places where he was victorious in 
eleven battles, Nennius proceeds : *' The 
twelfth battle was a severe contest, when 
Arthur penetrated to the hill of Badon. In 
this engagement, nine hundred and forty fell 
by his hand alone, no one but the Lord afford- 
ing him assistance." A wonderful feat, equal- 
ling that which Samson executed upon the 
Philistines. This '' hill of Badon," or '' mons 
Badonicus," has perhaps caused more discussion 
and disagreement than any other single doubt- 
ful point in the early history of England. 
Some unhesitatingly place it at Bath ; Baydon- 
hill near Aldbourne has had its claims put 
forward ; others prefer Badbury, it being a 
place of undoubted antiquity, and in the im- 
mediate neighbourhood of places very cele- 
brated in days gone by. Nor is King Arthur 

1 Under Cerdic (?). 



138 JEFFERIES' LAND 

the only personage of antiquity with whom 
Badbury has been in some degree connected. 
Who has not heard of St. Dunstan ? Dunstan,^ 
Abbot of Glastonbury — whose salntship is so 
much doubted, and whose fame approaches in- 
famy. Dunstan first became celebrated in the 
reign of King Edred, in about the middle of 
the tenth century. Edred's reign ended in the 
year 955. He gave in the same year the 
manor of Badbury to St. Dunstan. A charter 
is said to be still preserved, containing the 
boundaries. It mentions the "Ten Stones" as 
a landmark. Much later, the RIdforms, or 
Ridferns, became lords of the manor. A 
monument to one of them was in Chisledon 
church. 

Chisledon, which lies somewhat to the right 
of the Marlborough road, is a very ancient 
village. There is a place here known as Black- 
man s barrow ; and barrows are considered to 
be the burial places of the Britons. A Roman 
road — the Skelton Way — passes through the 
place, as does also a British track, known as 
the ** Rudgeway," that is, the Ridge Way, or 

^ Dunstan, b. 925, d. 988. 



THE MARLBOROUGH ROAD 139 

road running along the ridge of the hills. The 
Ridge Way branches off from the Skineld 
Street at Streetly, passes by White- Horse Hill, 
and, after leaving Chisledon, runs to Avebury. 
It was probably the ancient military road con- 
necting the fortifications upon the downs with 
each other. On the north of Chisledon frowns 
Liddington Castle, a well-preserved earthwork 
upon the brow of the hill. On the south, at a 
greater distance, may be seen another entrench- 
ment, that of Barbury. The downs fall back, 
forming a semi-circle through which the Marl- 
borough road passes, by means of a vale and 
pass at Ogbourne, and thus enclose a wide plain 
— a most fit and proper place for a town in an- 
cient times. Here accordingly stands Chisledon, 
on the very edge of the plain, giving the inhabi- 
tants the vantage ground of the hill in case of 
attack from the vale beneath. The etymology 
of the name shows Its great antiquity ; Ceasel- 
dene — ceasel Is an Anglo-Saxon word for 
gravel, sand, or rubble, of which there is a 
sufficiency at Chisledon, and dene, meaning 
plain. Hence Ceasel-dene would mean per- 
haps the gravel or rubble plain, and the name 
of the plain would be quickly applied to the 



140 JEFFERIES' LAND 

village upon it. The Saxon ce, has in several 
instances been changed into ch, in the lapse of 
centuries. A familiar example is the word 
churl — meaning a rude, uncivil fellow, a rustic 
— derived from the Saxon word laborer, or serf, 
rude as the soil he cultivated. Charles ^ is said 
to have come from the same root, meaning a 
husbandman. Chisledon Church was visited by 
Aubrey two centuries since. Here are his 
memoranda concerning it : — 

" By the communion table a gravestone of 
marble, with brasses, with this inscription : 
* Here lyeth the body of Francis Rutland, 
Esquler, sonne and heir to Nycolas Rutland of 
Micham In the countle of Surrie esquler, who 
marryed the daughter of Thomas Stephens 
esqr., and had four sonnes and two daughters. 
He died XXVH of August, 1592.' The 
escutcheon's lost : he was a courtier and died 
in the progress. 

''In nave ecclesiae : ' Here lieth the body of 
Rich. Harvey gentlemen, who departed this 



^ "Charles, originally man, male — akin to A. S. ceorl^ 
freeman of the lowest rank, man, husband ; and perhaps to 
Skr.y^ra, lover." — Webster. 




G 



s. 



^ 



f. 



THE MARLBOROUGH ROAD 141 

life January 16 and was buried Jan. 1668 

set suae 80.' " 

Francis Rutland, esquire, who '* was a cour- 
tier and died in the progress," was probably 
one of the court of Queen Elizabeth, and died 
whilst accompanying her in one of her annual 
journeys through her dominions. Stephens 
is a name that was formerly connected with 
Burderop. There is a tradition that Queen 
Elizabeth slept a night or two at a mansion at 
Upper Upham, about two miles from Chisle- 
don. The Galleys of Burderop have their 
family vaults in the church. The name was 
well known in the time of the Civil Wars. On 
the death-warrant of Charles I. is the signature 
of ** Will Cawley." He was for a long while 
considered the ancestor of the present owner of 
Burderop, but this has been shown to have 
arisen from a mistake, the ''Will Cawley" 
named above belonging to another family. 
Chisledon can still show a stocks in first-rate 
order, and perfectly capable of confining a 
malefactor, should that ancient mode of punish- 
ment ever come again into use. They stand 
immediately beneath the churchyard wall, 
close to the gate ; a pleasant situation for 



142 JEFFERIES' LAND 

an incarcerated offender, especially upon a 
Sunday. 

The Ridge Way road when it leaves Chisle- 
don winds away to Draycott Foliatt. Here 
there once stood a church, but it has disap- 
peared, and a part of the woodwork was 
probably used in building an adjacent house. 
The churchyard may still be seen — no building 
is allowed to be erected upon it — and bones 
were dug up when a saw-pit was being made 
there. A clergyman still receives a stipend 
from the inhabitants of Draycott, and preaches 
a sermon once a year in the adjoining church 
of Chisledon in return. Leaving Draycott 
Foliatt, the Ridge Way — now broad, and only 
shown to be a road by the waggon tracks on 
the turf — runs under Barbury Castle. Here 
in days gone by was Burderop racecourse. 
Silver cups which were won upon this springy 
turf are still preserved here and there about the 
country. Burderop Races were celebrated in 
former days. Now the greater portion of the 
course is ploughed up, and the remainder 
occupied by furze. 

Upon the summit of Barbury may be seen 
one of those numerous camps or entrench- 



THE MARLBOROUGH ROAD 143 

ments scattered about at various points upon 
the downs. This is a peculiar one. It con- 
sists of two fosses, or ditches, one within the 
other. If we remember rightly, such was the 
Saxon method of encampment ; but it by no 
means follows that Barbury Castle was origin- 
ally fortified by them. In all probability these 
posts, known as castles, have been successively 
occupied by Briton, Anglo-Saxon, Roman, and 
Dane ; each and all of whom altered the form 
of the fortification to suit their peculiar require- 
ments, so that each camp would bear the out- 
line given It by its last occupants. The inner 
fosse here is very deep, and its sides are nearly 
perpendicular — it was carried deeper and was 
cut more steep than that at Liddington, though 
the ground enclosed may not be so extensive. 
The outer fosse is by no means so broad. It 
must have required a large number of men to 
defend such fortifications as these, and es- 
pecially in times when fighting was carried on 
hand to hand — when every foot of ground 
would be occupied by a warrior. It is very 
evident that these fortifications were con- 
structed before missile weapons were employed. 
Here is no attempt at flanking. The defenders 



144 JEFFERIES' LAND 

have no advantage excepting those of two deep 
ditches, and an embankment between them and 
the assailants. They cannot deliver a cross 
fire. They must stand face to face, and hand 
to hand, and side by side all along the edge of 
these embankments. Nor must the fosses be 
left empty. The defenders of such a fortifica- 
tion In those days would need to be counted by 
thousands. But where could thousands of 
warriors be got from } North Wilts could not 
supply, or certainly could not spare them 
now. 

Nor is this the only camp In this part of the 
country. Look away to the north-east. Two 
may be seen in a line with each other and with 
Barbury, capping the crown of the hills. They 
are Liddlngton and White Horse Hills. There 
Is a general Impression that In ancient days 
Britain was a mere wild waste, unpeopled, one 
vast extent of forest and mountain. This cer- 
tainly was not the case with North Wilts and 
that part of Berks joining its north-eastern ex- 
tremity. The place, so to say, is literally alive 
with the dead. Not a step can be taken which 
does not lead to some token of antiquity. Turn 
up the turf and you shall find coins, arrow- 



THE MARLBOROUGH ROAD 145 

heads, and bones. Walk In the fields and you 
shall see the traces of moats and ancient build- 
ings. Ascend the downs and pause in astonish- 
ment before the vast fortifications of a former 
era. These downs were once trodden by the 
bold Britons ; the Roman soldier lav down to 
rest upon the thymy turf; the Saxon stretched 
himself at ease on yonder embankment ; the 
Dane imbrued his weapon In the blood of the 
Saxon on yonder hill. North Wilts must have 
been as populous then as now, the difference 
being simply in the change of the spots in- 
habited. 

Barbury has been considered to have been 
the scene of a terrible battle, recorded in the 
ancient Chronicles. Ethel werd writes thus : — 
''a.d. 552, Cenric,^ fought against the Britons 
near the town of Scarburh (Old Sarum, near 
Salisbury), and having routed them, slew a 
large number. The same, some years after 
(559)' fought with Ceawlln against the Britons 
near a place called Berin-byrig." Berin-byrig 
certainly might in the course of centuries 
become changed to Barbury. It would 

^ Or Cynric. 



146 JEFFERIES' LAND 

merely require the dropping of the second 
syllable, *' in," and the broadening of the 
vowel e. The letter g Is properly y. Cenric 
and Ceawlin were two Saxon chiefs. If 
this be a true conjecture, Barbury Castle or 
camp has probably been In existence for more 
than thirteen hundred years ; and yet it is still 
in a condition which might, In an emergency, 
afford a good shelter to a considerable garrison, 
and will probably remain thus whilst the hill 
stands. These works of the ancient inhabi- 
tants of Britain were by no means so slight and 
insignificant as has been supposed. It must 
have required an enormous amount of labour to 
dig out these deep fosses, more especially with 
the tools of that day. Probably much of the 
earth was carried up In baskets. The Ridge 
Way runs from Barbury away to Avebury. At 
the foot of the hill close to the Marlborough 
road stand two tumuli. Tumuli accompany the 
Ridge Way the whole course of its length. It 
was not a method of burial singular to the 
Britons. Homer makes mention of tumuli. 
Hector offers single combat to the Grecians in 
the Iliad, promising should he be successful to 
restore the dead body of his assailant : — 



(( 



THE MARLBOROUGH ROAD n? 

Whilst to his friends restored, funereal rites 
The sorrowing Grecians at their ships perform : 
And on the Hellespont's resounding shore 
Erect the tumulus that future times 
May know, and late posterity remark, 
Ploughing the briny wave ; Behold the tomb 
Of some illustrious chief by Hector slain ! 
So shall my glory brave the wreck of years." 



The British chiefs, or whoever they may be 
that lie buried at the foot of Barbury, have not 
been so fortunate as Hector. Their glory has 
not braved the wreck of years. Their very 
names are unknown. Conjecture itself can go 
no further than to suppose that the bodies of 
those slain in the battle with Cenric and 
Ceawlin lie here. They had no Homer. 
Richard of Cirencester, describing the funeral 
rites of the ancient Britons, proceeds thus : — 
'* Their interments were magnificent ; and all 
the things which they prized during life, even 
arms and animals, were thrown into the funeral 
pile. A heap of earth and turf formed the 
sepulchre." Here there is another analogy 
with the customs of the Greeks, as recorded by 
Homer. At Patroclus's funeral, after certain 
ceremonies, — 



148 JEFFERIES' LAND 

" Then in the pyle 
Four generous steeds they cast still groaning loud ; 
And add to these two of nine faithful dogs, 
Whilom their master's care ! " 

— " the things which they prized during life " of 
the Cirencester chronicler. 

When Burderop races were run immediately 
beneath the slope of the hill, Barbury was 
covered with spectators, but at present the hill 
is deserted, save by the flint-diggers, the shep- 
herds, and an occasional traveller. Burderop 
can be distinctly seen at a distance of two good 
miles. Adjoining Burderop is a place called 
Hodson — a small village which, like the towns 
of the Britons, is situated in a wood. Hodson 
is said to have been formerly spelt Hoddesdon, 
and, if so, may be the place alluded to in the 
following verse of a sonnet which may be found 
in Laura ; or. Select Sonnets and Quartorzans, 
published early in the present century. The 
same work contains a sonnet written after 
walking across the Marlborough Downs to 
Midenhall, on a stormy night. The sonnet is 
addressed to the pimpernel : — • 

" Gem of the fields, whose form and hues first gave 
The sense of beauty to my childish eye, 



THE MARLBOROUGH ROAD 149 

If many a traveller pass unheeding by, 

To me thou wilt not in oblivion's wave 

Sink ; could my muse thy beauteous flow'rets lave 

In brightest tints of immortality 

Thou hast deserved. Whate'er on earth or sky 

Wafts the delighted thought beyond the grave. 

From such beginning dawned upon the mind 
What time my infant feet on Hoddesdon's ground 
First learnt to pace. With what new joy I saw 
Thine azure eye with golden summits crowned 
And scarlet leaves, which coming tempests bind 
Cinquefolded close, warm suns to fair expansion draw." 

SeptefJiber 9/y^, 1805. C. L. 

A note added states that the country name 
of the pimpernel is wincopipe, probably from 
" wind, go pipe," the closing of the flower being 
a well-known sign of tempest. 

Perhaps two miles from Barbury, upon the 
Marlborough road, is a small village — actually 
without a public-house — called Ruckley. On 
the down above this place there are a number 
of Sarsden stones. Nine of these seem to 
form an oval, and there are four more within, 
placed two by two. This may be another of 
those works commonly ascribed to the Druids. 
The ends of the oval point nearly east and 
west. Marlborough race ground is immediately 



ISO JEFFERIES' LAND 

beneath this hill. Some distance further Is a 
place known as the " Devil's Den " ^ among 
the country people, where are a number of 
stones, and amongst them two of great height, 
placed on end, with a third across, like a beam, 
forming a kind of portal. It may be observed 
that the so-much admired Grecian architecture 
in Its severest form was but an ornamental Im- 
provement upon this simple erection : the 
pillars were fluted, and capitals added, but the 
Idea was the same In the Druldlcal temples, 
such as Stonehenge. The arch seems to have 
come from the Goths. Not a great distance 
from the " Devil's Den " Is a place known as 
Temple Bottom, where were a number of 
stones, which of late years have been broken 
up and removed. Hewlsh,^ near which these 
remains of a period which preceded history 
may be seen, is a place which became known 
to the London reading public through the 
medium of No. 237 of Household Words, pub- 
lished Saturday, October 7th, 1867. In that 
number may be found a most amusing article 

^ " A cromlech or dolmen." — Worth. 
^ Hewish Hill bears traces of having been a British 
village. 



THE MARLBOROUGH ROAD 151 

headed ''The Ghost of Pit Pond." The writer 
takes up his residence at Marlborough, at the 
''Castle" Inn, which was then famous for roast 
capons, and while amusing himself by strolling 
over the adjacent downs he meets with an old 
shepherd, and from him learns several legends, 
amongst which " The Ghost of Pit Pond, 
Hewish," occupies the most space. The action 
takes place about fifty years previous to the 
writer's arrival at Marlborough, which was 
twenty years ago ; consequently it must have 
been nearly a century since. A Mr. Reeves, of 
Hewish Farm, says the legend, hung himself 
for the love of an equestrian actress, whose 
w^onderful horsemanship he had seen displayed 
in a leap of twenty-five feet. The ghost of the 
suicide being reported to walk, a clergyman 
was called in, and the spirit laid in Pit Pond 
close by, which previously was clear as crystal, 
but immediately afterwards became muddy and 
green, nor would the beasts drink from it. 
The shepherd finishes his tale by remarking 
that " You may believe I haven't told you a 
word but what's been told to me for true." 

Marlborough lies a short distance from 
Ruckley. The following extract is from Lord 



152 JEFFERIES' LAND 

Clarendon's History of the Great Rebellion, 
and relates to the siege of Marlborough during 
the Civil Wars. 

''The king was hardly settled in his quarters 
(at Oxford) when he heard^ that the Parliament 
was fixing a garrison at Marlborough in Wilt- 
shire, a town the most notoriously disaffected of 
all that county ; otherwise, saving the obstinacy 
and malice of the inhabitants, in the situation 
of it very unfit for a garrison. Thither the 
Earl of Essex had sent one Ramsay (a Scotch- 
man, as most of their officers were of that 
nation), to be governor, who, with the help of 
the factious people there, had quickly drawn 
together five or six hundred men. This place 
the king saw would quickly prove an ill neigh- 
bour to him, not only as it was in the heart of 
a rich county, and so would straiten, and even 
infect, his quarters (for it was within twenty 
miles of Oxford), but as it did cut off his line 
of communication with the west, and therefore, 
though it was December, a season when his 
tired and almost naked soldiers might expect 
rest, he sent a strong party of horse, foot, and 
dragoons, under the command of Mr. Wilmott, 
the lieutenant-general of horse, to visit that 




< 
o 
u 

O 



C/3 

'.Li 



THE MARLBOROUGH ROAD 153 

town ; who, coming thither on a Saturday, 
found the place strongly mann'd ; for, besides 
the garrison, it being market-day, very many 
country people came thither to buy and sell, 
and were all compell'd to stay and take arms 
for the defence of the place ; which, for the 
most part, they were w^illing to do, and the 
people peremptory to defend it. Though there 
was no line about it, yet there was some place 
of great advantage upon which they had raised 
batteries and planted cannon, and so barri- 
cadoed all the avenues, which were through 
deep narrow lanes, that the horse could do little 
service. 

*' When the lieutenant-general was with his 
party near the town, he apprehended a fellow 
who confessed upon examination that he was a 
spy, and sent by the governor to bring intel- 
ligence of their strength and motion. When 
all men thought, and the poor fellow himself 
fear'd, he should be executed, the lieutenant- 
general caused his whole party to be ranged in 
order in the next convenient place, and bid the 
fellow look well upon them and observe them, 
and then bid him return to the town, and tell 
those that sent him what he had seen, and 



154 fEFFERIES' LAND 

withal that he should acquaint the magistrates 
of the town that they should do well to tract 
with the garrison to give them leave to submit 
to the king ; that if they did so, the town 
should not receive the least prejudice ; but If 
they compeird him to make his way, and enter 
the town by force, it would not be in his power 
to keep his soldiers from taking that which 
they should win with their blood ; and so dis- 
mlss'd him. This generous act proved of some 
advantage ; for the fellow, transported with 
having his life given him, and the numbers of 
the men he had seen (besides his no experience 
in such sights), being multiplied by his fear, 
made notable relations of the strength, gal- 
lantry, and resolution of the enemy, and of 
the impossibility of resisting them ; which, 
though It prevailed not with those In authority 
to yield, yet it strangely abated the hopes and 
courage of the people. So that when the 
king's soldiers fell on, after a volley or two, in 
which much execution was done, they threw 
down their arms, and ran Into the town; so 
that the foot had time to make room for the 
horse, who were now entered at both ends of 
the town, yet were not so near an end as they 



THE MARLBOROUGH ROAD 155 

expected ; for the streets were in many places 
barrlcadoed, which were obstinately defended 
by some soldiers and townsmen, who killed 
many men out of the windows of the houses ; 
so that, it may be, if they had trusted only to 
their own strength, without compelling the 
countrymen to increase their number, and who, 
being first frighted and weary, disheartened 
their companions, that place might have cost 
more blood. Ramsey, the governor, was him- 
self retired into the church with some officers, 
and from thence did some hurt ; upon this, 
there beinp- so many kill'd out of windows, fire 
was put to the next houses, so that a good part 
of the town was burn'd, and then the soldiers 
enter'd, doing less execution than could reason- 
ably be expected, but what they spared in 
blood they took in pillage, the soldiers in- 
quiring little who were friend or foes. 

'' This was the first garrison taken on either 
side (for I cannot call Farnham Castle in 
Surrey one, whither some gentlemen who were 
willing to appear for the king had repaired, and 
were taken with less resistance than was fit, by 
Sir William Waller some few days before it 
deserved the name of a garrison) ; in which 



156 JEFFERIES' LAND 

were taken (besides the governor and other 
officers, who yielded upon quarter), above one 
thousand prisoners, great store of arms, four 
pieces of canon, and a good quantity of amu- 
nition, with all which the lieutenant-general 
returned safe to Oxford." 



CHAPTER VII 

THE DEVIZES ROAD 

THE first place of interest to an anti- 
quarian upon the Devizes road from 
Swindon is the village of Wroughton, about 
three miles distant. It is the largest village in 
the neighbourhood, and is placed in a most 
beautiful situation. Wood, water, dell and 
down, combine to render it a most attractive 
spot. Recently the operations of the Sw^indon 
Water Works' Company have completely 
altered the aspect of one of the romantic 
valleys of which there are several in the neigh- 
bourhood of Wroughton ; but the memory of 
the Seven Springs will not quickly die away 
from the remembrance of its inhabitants. 
Wroughton has long retained its celebrity as 
a beautiful place. Aubrey, who came here two 

hundred years ago, says that around here was 

157 



158 JEFFERIES' LAND 

the garden of Wiltshire, meaning to Intimate 
its fertility and high state of cultivation. It is 
an ancient place. Some say that one of the 
downs immediately over the village was orig- 
inally called Ellandune. Ellandune was once 
the scene of a severe contest. The Chronicle 
of Ethel werd contains the following passage : — 
*'A.D. 823 . . . King Egbert fought a 
battle against Burnulf, King of the Mercians, 
at Ellandune, and Egbert gained the victory ; 
but there was a great loss on both sides ; and 
Hun, duke of the Province of Somerset, was 
there slain ; he lies burled in the city of Win- 
chester. Egbert was king of the West Saxons, 
and became a very celebrated monarch." This 
battle took place over a thousand years ago, in 
which time great changes might be expected to 
occur in the names of spots once well known as 
the scenes of strife, and a consequent difficulty 
to arise in fixing their exact situation. Hence 
Ellandune has been also considered to be near 
Wilton. If the battle really did take place 
near Wroughton, upon a down called Ellan- 
dune, it was probably at no great distance from 
the spot where the church now stands. The 
vale beneath still goes by the name of Ell- 



THE DEVIZES ROAD 159 

comb, in which is preserved the first syllable of 
Ellandune. "En" has been frequently dropped 
in the course of centuries, as Oxenford, Oxford. 
Comb would seem to come from an ancient 
British word, still preserved in the Welsh 
cwm, meaning a vale. Ellcomb would naturally 
be the vale beneath Ellandune. This is, 
however, merely a conjecture. Wroughton 
churchyard is remarkably crowded with grave- 
stones, which cluster so closely around an 
ancient yew that its stem can scarcely be seen. 
The support of a sundial still remains, but 
the gnomon and hour-circle have disappeared. 
Close by the portal is a tombstone with the 
following curious inscription : — 

"John Dvcke, departed this hfe the i6th day August, 1666, 
Who lived well to die never, and died well to live ever." 

Broad Hinton is the next village. By the 
side of the road thither, there may be observed 
crosses cut deep into the turf, and kept clean 
by the roadmenders, in order to commemorate 
the spots where accidents or murders have 
taken place. Broad Hinton is on the plain 
beneath the swelling downs. Here may be 
seen cut out on the turf, on the slope of the 



i6o JEFFERIES' LAND 

down, close beside the Marlborough road, 
another white horse, though of far less size 
than that at Ashdown. These horses are far 
from uncommon upon the Marlborough Downs, 
and may, perhaps, indicate the strong hold 
which the Saxons had gained upon this part 
of Britain. Besides this, there is the cele- 
brated white horse at Ashdown, and the almost 
equally well known white horse at Marl- 
borough, which the scholars take a delight In 
cleaning — three, perhaps, within ten miles of 
each other. Broad Hinton has its legend as 
well as other better known places. Somewhat 
apart from the village stands a magnificent 
yew-tree, and near by it a cottage. Part of 
this cottage is built over a large well of enor- 
mous depth, the chain to which the two 
buckets are attached, one going up as the 
other goes down, is said to be two hundred 
feet in length. The chain runs over a shaft, 
turned by a large wheel, which can be set 
revolving by a man standing within it — a giddy 
operation to those unused to such exertion. 
A testimony to the depth of the well is easily 
obtained by dropping a stone down, when 
several moments elapse ere it touches the 



THE DEVIZES ROAD i6i 

water, causing a noise which, reverberating 
from the sides, resembles thunder. At the 
bottom of this well lies wealth in the shape of 
plate, says tradition. This plate, according to 
the same authority, was thrown down here in 
the time of the Civil War. So strong is the 
belief amongst the common people of the 
truth of this story that some men, no great 
while since, offered to undertake the arduous 
work of cleaning it out, for what they would 
find at the bottom — which offer was, however, 
declined by the owner, who considered the 
operation too dangerous. Near by this cot- 
tage the ground is uneven and irregular, 
generally a sure sign of having once been 
built upon, and accordingly here, says tradition, 
once stood a noble mansion known as Broad 
Hinton House. 

Broad Hinton Church is a very ancient 
erection.^ It was visited by Aubrey in the 
seventeenth century, who therein copied an 
inscription which time has now rendered nearly 
illegible, though sufficient remains to identify 



1 The modem glass in this ancient church deserves 
notice. 



1 62 JEFFERIES' LAND 

the monument to which he refers. It Is upon 
the north side of the chancel, facing the com- 
munion table, and consists of a slab let Into 
the wall. Here Is Aubrey's copy : — 

*' Here lyeth Syr William Wroughton, 
knight, who dyed in the 50 yeare of his age 
In Anno Dom. 1559 ; and left jssewe of his 
body by Dame Elinor his wife, daughter of 
Edward Lewknor, esq., 4 sonnes and 3 
daughters ; and built the house at Broad- 
hinton, Anno Domini 1540." 

This house at Broad Hinton, built by Syr 
William Wroughton, Is undoubtedly the same 
of which tradition says that It stood near the 
well above-mentioned, which well was probably 
dug to supply it with water, so necessary In 
those days, when no one knew how soon It 
might be before his house would be besieged. 
Syr William Wroughton flourished in the reign 
of Henry the Eighth, and built his house 
whilst that monarch sat upon the throne, 
though he did not die until the first year of 
Oueen Elizabeth. Those were stirring times. 
In the fifty years of his life, Syr William 
Wroughton had seen four occupants of the 
throne — Henry the Eighth, Edward the Sixth, 



THE DEVIZES ROAD 163 

Queen Mary and, lastly, Queen Elizabeth. 
He could have related, no doubt, the rumours 
of Henry's cruelty and love of change — witness 
thereto his many wives ; of Edward's piety, of 
the persecution of the reformers by Queen 
Mary, and of the glory of the nation after the 
accession of Elizabeth. He could remember 
the short reign of Lady Jane Grey, and her 
unfortunate end. Syr William Wroughton 
lived in dangerous days, and doubtless had his 
share in the convulsions which agitated Eng- 
land. Wrouehton is an ancient name. Per- 
sons bearing it held property at Wanborough 
in times long gone by. Other members of the 
family lie buried in Broad Hinton church. On 
the opposite side of the chancel there is a 
monument, said to be that of Syr Thomas 
Wroughton, son of the Syr William mentioned 
above. A figure of the knight, somewhat 
under full size, kneels upon a cushion, facing 
the altar, as if praying, though the hands are 
now broken off. He is in armour. Immedi- 
ately behind him kneels his lady, wearing a 
head-covering of the most extraordinary shape. 
To-day satire is directed against the feminine 
sex on account of the small size of their 



1 64 JEFFERIES' LAND 

bonnets, neither defending the head against 
wind nor rain ; then the case was precisely the 
reverse. Fashions In their changes often re- 
vert to those of times gone by. Pray heaven 
the fickle goddess of fashion may never startle 
the affrighted world by reproducing the head- 
covering of Lady Wroughton ! Over the 
knight and his lady is a kind of canopy, and 
beneath them small carved figures of their 
eight children — four boys, and as many girls ; 
the boys beneath their father^ the girls beneath 
their mother. 

Broad HInton estate formerly belonged to 
the Wroughton family, from whom it was pur- 
chased by Sir John Glanvllle, second son of 
John Glanvllle, Judge, P.C., In 1640. He was 
a very celebrated Sergeant-at-Law, and still 
more famous as the Speaker of the House of 
Commons during the agitation which preceded 
the Civil War. He is mentioned by Lord 
Clarendon In his Lllstory of the Rebellion. 
Glanvllle, says tradition, burned Broad Hinton 
House, in order to prevent Its being used as a 
garrison by the Parliament.^ If there be any 

^ And afterwards lived in the gatehouse. 



THE DEVIZES ROAD 165 

truth in the tale, it was probably at this time 
that the plate which has already been alluded 
to was cast down the well, that it might not be 
seized by the Parliamentarian soldiers, and 
converted into the means of carrying on the 
war against King Charles. There are several 
monuments to the Glanville family in Broad 
Hinton church. On the left side of the 
chancel, facing the altar, stands a full-length 
statue of one of them in armour, and holding a 
gilded staff in one hand, the end of the staff 
resting upon his thigh. The crest is a stag. 
This statue is of alabaster, and well executed. 
The date is a.d. 1645 — the days of King 
Charles and the Civil War — and there is a 
long Latin inscription running up the wall on 
each side of the statue, in a most awkward 
manner for the reader. Sir John Glanville, 
eldest son of the famous Sergeant-at-Law, was 
a lieutenant in the service of King Charles the 
First, and died at the siege of Bridgewater, in 
Somerset, in 1645. Beyond the monument 
and inscription to Syr William Wroughton, on 
the same side of the chancel, is a monument to 
the memory of Johannes Glanville, son of John 
Glanville, of Tavistock. He lived temp. 



i66 JEFFERIES' LAND 

Charles I. and II. The date is 1661. Near 
by is another monument to another Glanville, 
dated 1673. Here is suspended high up, im- 
mediately beneath the roof, a large helmet, 
with a pair of gauntlets, somewhat mutilated, 
as if they had seen service, and been where 

" With many a thwack, and many a bang, 
Hard crabtree and old iron rang." 

The Glanville crest was evidently a stag, 
miniature representations of which can be seen 
in numerous places. The coat-of-arms of the 
Wroughtons interred here bears three boars' 
heads, whose tusks can still be seen, though 
they have been sculptured here these three 
centuries and more. 

John Evelyn once came to Broad Hinton. 
His memoirs have been since published, and 
contain much amusing matter concerning the 
court of Charles II. Sir John Evelyn (?) was 
a person so deeply implicated in the rebellion 
that he was excepted by name in King 
Charles's proclamation of pardon to Wiltshire, 
according to Lord Clarendon. 

Some distance beyond Broad Hinton lies 
Avebury, a place which is perhaps the most 



THE DEVIZES ROAD 167 

fertile spot in objects of antiquarian interest of 
any in North Wilts. Avebury is best ap- 
proached — that is for a view — by the Ridg 
Way road, which runs there along the ridge 
or summit of the downs from Barbury. From 
the last down, Avebury,^ or, as it is more 
usually spelt and written, Abury, can be seen 
to great advantage. Probably to a stranger it 
would be invisible, however, the village being 
concealed by trees, and a vast mound of earth 
thrown up which surrounds it. Abury is in 
the middle of a plain, and seems to have been 
approached by an avenue of stones much more 
than a mile in length. A similar approach to 
the temples of their gods marked the Egyptian 
places of w^orship, although in their case, the 

^ " Aubrey has strong claims upon us touching Avebury, 
for he ' discovered ' it in an accidental view during a hunt- 
ing excursion in 164S, and he returned to its study again 
and again. It was fortunate that he did so, for the cha- 
racter of the monument was unnoticed in the only previous 
record, Holland's Ca?nde?i ; and he has left us accurate 
descriptions and plans as in the day when he took ' this 
old, ill-shapened monument to be the greatest, most con- 
siderable, and least ruinated of any of the kind in our 
British isle.' ' Most ruinated ' as it now is, without his help 
a very inadequate idea could be formed of its pristine 
character." — i?. N. Worth. 



i68 JEFFERIES' LAAD 

Stones Instead of being merely placed on end 
were carved into the likeness of sphinxes, 
many of which remain to this day to testify to 
the grandeur with which the Egyptian priests 
surrounded their mysterious religion. The 
stone avenue at Abury commences on the slope 
at the entrance to a deep-sided narrow valley 
east of the village, and does not simply consist 
of two rows of stones : nor is the appearance 
of regularity always visible, nor invariably pre- 
served during the whole distance. At the 
commencement of the avenue the stones seem 
scattered about without any attempt at order ; 
in a short distance they assume a more regular 
appearance, being placed upon the bottom of 
the valley.^ Here and there lie as many as 
three or four huge stones, thrown almost one 
upon the other, and partially overlapping. 
These would seem to have been originally 
cromlechs — stones set on edge and covered in 
with one broad flat stone. That this was the 
case appears to be still more evident in other 
stone groups, where the cromlechs seem to 

^ Avebury, like Stonehenge, possesses a literature of its 
own, from which the reader can expand the somewhat 
meagre details mentioned by Jefferies. 



THE DEVIZES ROAD 169 

have sunk bodily into the earth, though still 
sufficiently above ground to enable their origi- 
nal position to be conjectured. If these were 
cromlechs they probably served the double 
purpose of at once forming a monument to 
some departed worthy of renown, and at the 
same time that of an altar for sacrificing to his 
manes or spirit, as seems to have been the 
custom amongst numerous nations of antiquity. 
Several of these stone groups seem to have 
been originally surrounded with a stone circle, 
which circles have been almost always re- 
garded as monuments to the dead. Ossian 
frequently alludes to the custom of the ancient 
inhabitants of the Highlands — the Celts — of 
marking the resting-place of their departed 
heroes. *' Four grey stones mark the grave of 
the hero," are lines often occurring with slight 
variations in the poems of the Gaelic Homer. 
These stones here at Abury immediately give 
rise to the idea of their being monuments of 
the dead — they look like grave-stones, especi- 
ally at a distance. Perhaps here lie buried the 
priests who formerly ministered in the ancient 
temple of Abury. Here their successors may 
have sacrificed to the soul of the deceased. 



I70 JEFFERIES' LAND 

That the Druids believed In the doctrine of 
immortality is supported by the witness of 
ancient writers. So did the race who In- 
habited Britain immediately after their religion 
had been swept away — if there be any truth in 
Ossian. But when the Druids had gone, the 
Idea of an Immortal soul became a very dif- 
ferent conception — merely a shadowy being 
seen in the mist rising in the vale or heard In 
the wind of night. The Druidical doctrine of 
immortality w^as far more inspiring. Here It Is 
In the lines of Lucan, a Roman poet : 



" The Druids now, while arms are heard no more, 
Old mysteries and barbarous rites restore, 
A tribe who singular religion love, 
And haunt the shady coverts of the grove. 
To these, and these of all mankind alone. 
The gods are sure revealed, or sure unknown. 
If dying mortal's doom they sing aright. 
No ghosts descend to dwell in dreadful night ; 
No parting souls to grisly Pluto go. 
Nor seek the dreary silent shades below ; 
But forth they fly immortal of their kind. 
And other bodies in new worlds they find ; 
Thus life for ever runs its endless race. 
And Uke a line death but divides the space, 
A stop which can but for a moment last, 
A point between the future and the past. 



THE DEVIZES ROAD 171 

Thrice happy they beneath their northern skies, 
Who that worst fear — the fear of death — despise. 
Hence they no cares for this frail being feel, 
But rush undaunted on the pointed steel \ 
Provoke approaching fate, and bravely scorn 
To spare that life which must so soon return." 

Rowers '■^ Luca?i.^^ 



The passage is quoted by Richard of Ciren- 
cester in his Ancient State of Britain. It has 
been noted by travellers in Persia that there 
are in that country somewhat similar remains 
to these at Abury — large stones standing on 
end in groups. In connection with this a 
passage of Pliny is interesting : '' But why 
should I commemorate those things with re- 
gard to a thing which has passed over sea, and 
reached the bounds of nature } Britain at this 
day celebrates it with so many wonderful cere- 
monies that she seems to have taught it to the 
Persians." As the stone avenue approaches 
Abury the stones are found placed closer to- 
gether, seemingly in two rows. In one or two 
places a row of stones crosses the avenue. 
There may be seen around numerous tumuli, 
sometimes scarcely elevated two feet above the 
earth, at other times visible for miles ; here 



172 JEFFERIES' LAND 

single and alone, yonder in groups of two or 
three ; some on the downs, some in the vale. 
These may, perhaps, commemorate secular 
chieftains, if the stones be held to be in 
memory of priests. This plain of Abury seems 
to be one vast graveyard. The Celts had a 
custom, it is said, of spending a night on or 
near the tumuli raised over their ancestors, in 
order to receive communications from their 
departed spirits. Such things may have been 
practised here. Wiltshire was originally in- 
habited by a tribe of Britons called the 
Belgae. 

"All the Belgae," writes Richard of Ciren- 
cester, *'are Allobroges or foreigners, and de- 
rived their origin from the Celts. The latter, 
not many ages before the arrival of Caesar, 
quitted their native country, Gaul, which was 
conquered by the Romans and Germans, and 
passed over to this island." But the Celts 
were not the original inhabitants of Wiltshire, 
since, in another passage, he states that in the 
year of the world 3,600, or four centuries be- 
fore Christ, the Senones emigrated from 
Britain, and in 3,650 the "• Belgae entered this 
country, and the Celts occupied the region 



THE DEVIZES ROAD 173 

deserted by the Senones," who had gone to 
"invade Italy and attack Rome." Hence it is 
a question whether these memorials were 
erected by the Senones or the Celts. They 
may, perhaps, be the result of the labours of 
two different tribes : the stones being the 
monuments of one age, and the earth mounds, 
or tumuli, of another. 

The village of Abury is completely sur- 
rounded by a deep fosse and steep embank- 
ment, the latter outermost, hence it could never 
have been constructed for defence. It is nearly 
circular, very deep, and would enable a vast 
multitude of people standing upon the mound 
to witness the rites and ceremonies performed 
at the altars by the priests within the circle, 
the ditch being the division between the un- 
initiated and the initiated. It may be observed 
that when the fosse was duQf the earth was 
not thrown up exactly at its outer edge but 
somewhat back, thus leaving a portion of 
ground between the fosse and embankment. 
The fosse was probably destined to answer the 
same purpose as the stones which Moses is 
recorded to have placed around Mount Sinai 
to keep the assembled multitude from the sacred 



174 JEFFERIES' LAND 

ground within. There are at present four 
entrances through the embankment to the 
village. They are formed by as many roads, 
on each side of which stand at this day huge 
stones set on edge, like pillars. Some of these 
stones are diamond-shaped. Abury Church 
stands Immediately without the embankment. 
Somewhere about the centre of the enclosed 
ground there stand three huge stones of great 
height, some of which might form the end wall 
of a good sized house, of such height and 
breadth are they. They stand close to some 
cottages, the grey, weather-beaten mxemorial of 
former ages, that has stood the storms of twenty 
centuries, beside the whitewashed, thatched, 
perishable erections of the present, or at most 
the last, generation. To the south of them, 
In a field nearer the embankment, stand four 
or five others, perhaps not so high, but broader, 
and of a squarer shape. These may be from 
fifteen to eighteen feet high. One of them 
seems to have a hollow beneath It, Into which, 
an old man Informed us, he had crept, when 
a boy, but found It not to extend above the 
length of his body. He was nearly suffocated 
havlnof found It difficult to withdraw without 



THE DEVIZES ROAD 175 

assistance from the small size of the aperture 
into which he had imprudently advanced. Im- 
mediately without the embankment, further 
south beside the Marlborough road, stand two 
stones of smaller dimensions, but still large, 
which seem disposed there to indicate the 
direction of Silbury Hill. Other stones are 
scattered about within the fosse, some so much 
sunk in the ground as to be hardly visible. 
There may not now, perhaps, be more than a 
score of stones remaining within the fosse, but 
these are of the largest size. Wonder has 
been expressed at the raising of such large 
stones to a perpendicular position. It merely 
required the command of unlimited labour. 
They were probably raised by heaping earth 
beneath them, by a combination of the Inclined 
plane, wedge, and lever, in the same way as 
were the colossal statues of Egypt. The 
original form In which these stones were placed 
appears from a diagram, made some two hundred 
years since by Aubrey, to have been one large 
circle, inclosing two smaller ones ; the large 
circle of stones being set around immediately 
upon the inner edge of the fosse. The larger 
stones now remaining seem to have been the 



176 JEFFERIES' LAND 

nucleus of the smaller circles, which were within 
the larger. 

It is impossible to over estimate the solemn 
effect which this arrangement must have had 
when perfect, especially upon a rude and com- 
paratively illiterate people. Even at this day, 
these venerable monuments of an age of which 
nothing is known with certainty, cannot be gazed 
upon without a sense of wonder almost amount- 
ing to awe. There they stand — the inscrutable 
sphinxes of England. What was the purpose 
for which they were erected ? What have they 
witnessed } What is their meaning ? Anti- 
quarians seem to concur in assigning them an 
earlier date than Stonehenge since the stones 
at Salisbury bear the marks of tools — and these 
are unhewn — but they concur in nothing more. 
A Phoenician, a Celtic, a British, a Saxon, and 
even a Hindoo origin has been assigned them, 
the last by a writer in the Philosophical 
Magazine who produces many arguments in 
favour of his theory. He states that Britain 
was designated as the '' White Island" in some 
sacred writings of the Hindoos. Britain is 
termed the White Island in several old Welsh 
documents. Richard of Cirencester states 



THE DEVIZES ROAD \11 

that Britain was first cultivated and inhabited 
one thousand years before Christ, "when it was 
visited by the Greek and Phoenician merchants." 
The Danes had a custom of performing great 
judicial ceremonies in stone circles, but they 
do not appear to have held this part of Britain 
long enough to warrant the assignment of 
Abury to them. It is mentioned by no ancient 
writer. A Roman road runs close by, but their 
historians say nothing of it. Abury is still a 
mystery. 

A short distance from Abury is Silbury Hill,^ 
another standing puzzle to antiquarians. It is a 
conical hill, very steep-sided, perhaps a hundred 
paces in circumference, and of great height,^ 
having much the appearance of a barrow, and 
is evidently a work of man, since the places 
from whence the earth was taken can still be 
traced. It has been twice opened, once^ by a 
shaft from the top, once by a horizontal open- 
ing* — but without leading to any discovery 

1 " The hugest tumulus, not only in Britain, but in 
Europe/' — Worth. 

2 According to Dean Merewether, it is 125 feet high and 
1,550 feet rounds and covers nearly five acres. 

^ 1777. ^ 1849. 

N 



178 JEFFERIES' LAND 

that threw light upon the subject. A tradition, 
mentioned by Aubrey, states that it was raised 
as a monument over King Lil or Sil, who was 
buried on horseback, and this whilst a posset 
of milk was seething. The tradition may 
contain the germs of truth. It does not seem 
to have been connected with Abury, since it 
is not visible from there. The earth was pro- 
bably carried up in baskets, and the enormous 
number of men employed in the work is 
intimated by that part of the legend which 
says it was thrown up in the short time that 
a posset of milk took in seething. King 
Charles II., in company with the Duke of 
York, once ascended this remarkable mound. 
The king commissioned Aubrey to prepare an 
account of Abury, which he accordingly did, 
and states therein that, in his opinion, the church 
and many of the houses may have been built 
of the stones which were found, the circles 
having been broken for that purpose. It may 
be mentioned in connection with the legend of 
King Sil that Herodotus mentions a custom 
of burial on horseback as prevalent amongst 
the Scythians, though not practised towards 
the persons of their kings. He also states that 



THE DEVIZES ROAD 179 

they threw up a heap of earth over the de- 
ceased. 

Ancient coins, supposed to be British, are 
said to be frequently picked up by the plough- 
boys in the adjacent fields, especially after the 
heavy rains have washed away the soil. At 
a distance of perhaps two miles south of Abury 
there runs along the ridge of the downs a fosse 
and embankment, called Wansditch or dyke, 
more commonly the " Devil's Dyke." The 
country folk maintain that it runs through 
England. It was probably the boundary-line 
of an ancient kingdom. Upon the summit of 
a down at some distance can be seen a pillar. 
It w^as erected by the Marquis of Lansdowne. 
Here is Oldbury Castle another ancient en- 
campment, and further on lies Heddington, a 
place which is a mine of wealth to an archse- 
oloo^ist. 

Abury is by some supposed to have been 
a temple erected by worshippers of the snake, 
by others as a temple of the sun. Both may 
be right, since snakes are remarkably fond of 
sunshine, and were the emblems of health, of 
which the sun was, and is, the great dispenser. 
Yet both may nevertheless be wrong, so im- 



i8o JEFFERIES' LAND 

penetrable Is the mist of antiquity which hangs 
over this mysterious monument of bygone 
times. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE OXFORD ROAD 

ONE mile below Kingshlll Hill, Swindon, 
a footpath branches off from the road 
upon the right hand. It leads to Lydlard 
Tregoze. It Is a strange and very ancient 
village. Modern Improvements and modern 
innovations do not seem to have penetrated 
here, though red- bricked houses may be seen 
at Shaw, a short distance away. Here, deep 
in a combe, or valley, half hidden by trees, 
stand three or four old houses, whose stone 
tiling immediately renders evident their an- 
tiquity. The church is invisible until the 
pedestrian arrives before it, so numerous are 
the trees. It stands exactly in front of the 
seat of Lord Bollngbroke, much in the same 
way as did the old church at Swindon, though 
this is even nearer. Lydlard Park lies just 

i8i 



1 82 JEFFERIES' LAND 

beyond. It was formerly famous for the rear- 
ing of '' young things," i.e. cattle. 

Lydiard and the neighbourhood are remark- 
ably well wooded. Oak is abundant, though 
it is observed that the trees never reach that 
enormous size which astonishes one in other 
localities. There is a curious legend about 
these oak trees. Ages ago a member of the 
Bolingbroke family rendered some important 
service to an English monarch. In return he 
received a grant of the lands of Lydiard until 
he should have taken three crops off them, 
after which they were to revert to the Crown. 
The wily nobleman had the lands sown with 
acorns and hazel nuts, which shot up into oaks 
and hazel woods, and the Bolingbrokes have 
not cleared their first crop yet. Such is the 
story. The Bolingbrokes have certainly been 
connected with Lydiard Tregoze from time 
immemorial. The name of Bolingbroke is very 
celebrated, and frequently occurs in English 
history. Shakespeare has immortalised it in 
Richard II. It was then borne by a son of 
John of Gaunt, who afterwards became king. 
St. John is the family name. It was from the 
Lord Bolingbroke of his day that the poet 



THE OXFORD ROAD 183 

Pope derived much of that philosophy which 
he has embodied in the Essay on Man. That 
poem opens with these Hnes : — 

" Awake, my St. John ! leave all meaner things 
To low ambition, and the pride of kings." 

It is probable that the concluding lines in 
the fourth Epistle of that celebrated Essay 
were addressed to his friend St. John, Lord 
Bolingbroke : — 

" Come then, my friend, my genius, come along ; 
Oh master of the poet, and the song ! 
And while the Muse now stoops, or now ascends, 
To man's low passions, or their glorious ends, 
Teach me, like thee, in various nature wise, 
To fall with dignity, with temper rise ; 
Form'd by thy converse, happily to steer 
From grave to gay, from lively to severe ; 
Correct with spirit, eloquent with ease, 
Intent to reason, or polite to please. 
Oh ! while along the stream of time thy name 
Expanded flies, and gathers all its fame ; 
Say, shall my little bark attendant sail. 
Pursue the triumph, and partake the gale ? 
When statesmen, heroes, kings, in dust repose 
Whose sons shall blush their fathers were thy foes, 
Shall then this verse to future age pretend 
Thou wert my guide, philosopher, and friend ? 
That, urged by thee, I turn'd the tuneful art 
From sounds to things, from fancy to the heart ; 



1 84 JEFFERIES' LAND 

For wits' false mirror held up nature's light ; 
Showed erring pride, whatever is, is right ; 
That reason, passion, answer one great aim ; 
That true self-love and social are the same ; 
That virtue only makes our bliss below, 
And all our knowledge is, ourselves to know." 

These lines finish the Essay, and contain the 
essence of that philosophy which he had before 
presented In a more expanded form. St. John, 
Viscount Bollngbroke, was a celebrated mem- 
ber of the ministry of Queen Anne. Pope was 
several times In North Wilts, and resided for 
a considerable period at Cirencester w^Ith his 
friend, Lord Bathurst. In Bathurst Park Is 
still shown the poet's seat. 

The game-preserves of Lydlard are now 
much noted, so that It Is a common observation 
that In driving along the roads near by It is 
necessary to go slowly and whip the pheasants 
out of the way, as If they were a flock of sheep. 
As many as 800 head of game have been shot 
in a single battue. 

Lydlard Is a very ancient place. It Is now 
known as Tregoze, but was formerly Lydlard 
Ewyas. Lydlard was an inhabited spot in the 
days of William the Conqueror, as appears 



THE OXFORD ROAD 185 

from the following ancient lines copied from a 
genealogical tablet In the church, of which more 
presently. The verses are somewhat strangely 
distributed in the original, and there are divers 
opinions as to the proper manner of reading 
them ; but the following disposition seems most 
natural. The same tablet states that they are 
*' Some ancient remains of Sir Richard St. 
George, Knight, Garter King-at-Arms, relating 
to ye pedigree of St. John, written in the year 
161 5, and transcribed in this present year, 
1694 " : — 



" When conquering William won by force of sword 
The famous island, now called Brittan's land, 
Of Lydiard then was Ewyas only Lord, 
Whose heir to Tregoz, linckt in marriage band : 
That Tregoz, a great Baron in his age. 
By her had issue the Lord Grauntson's wife; 
Whose daughter PatshuU took in marriage 
And Beauchamp theirs ; Beauchamp, with happy life. 
Was blessed with a daughter, whence did spring 
An heir to St. John who did Lydiard bring. 
Thus course of time, by God's almighty power, 
Hath kept this land of Lydiard in one race, 
Five hundred forty-nine years, and now more. 
Where at this day is St. John's dwelling-place ; 
Noe ! noe ! he dwells in heaven whose anchored faith 
Fixed on God accounted hfe but death." 



i86 JEFFERIES' LAND 

" Five hundred and forty-nine years " have 
now (1867) increased to eight hundred and 
one — a long, long vista of years to look back 
upon. 

There are numerous monuments to the 
Bolingbrokes, or rather the St. Johns, in 
Lydiard Church. The church is ancient, and 
contains several stained glass windows. The 
windows of the north aisle contain a small 
quantity of very old stained glass. Over the 
entrance door there is a carved figure of a 
woman, pinched and miserable, as if in the last 
agonies of starvation. The legend runs that 
it is in memory of a person who died from, 
toothache. The chancel is supported upon 
pillars, and the roof presents the likeness of the 
sun, moon, and stars ; it is, in fact, a repre- 
sentation of the sky. The chancel forms a 
vast canopy over the monuments of the St. 
Johns, whose remains lie mouldering in the 
extensive vaults beneath. 

A full-length gilt statue of a St. John, in 
the dress and with the flowing locks of the 
Cavaliers, stands against the south wall of the 
chancel. Two smaller figures are on either 
hand, drawino^ back a curtain which reveals the 



THE OXFORD ROAD 187 

cavalier. Tradition tells a strange tale about 
this statue, which is said to represent a Royalist 
warrior, who had constructed for himself a 
dress, or armour, of brass, impervious save in 
one spot, and who passed safely through the 
dangers of the Civil War, until he was at 
length betrayed by his servant. In the chancel 
itself, somewhat to the south of the communion 
table, is a magnificent monument to John St. 
John, knight and baron, and his two wives, 
Anna and Margarita. It is dated a.d. 1634. 

Beneath a canopy, itself ornamented with 
divers small figures, lies the effigy of the baron, 
apparently executed in alabaster, and at full 
length. He is in armour. Full-length figures 
of his two wives lie, one on either side, and on 
the breast of one lies an infant. All three are 
in an attitude of repose. The execution is 
excellent, and so marked are the features that 
it may be conjectured they are, to a certain 
extent, correct copies of the originals. Five 
sons kneel at the head of their parents, and 
three daughters at their feet.-^ It is, perhaps, 

^ " At their feet are a spread eagle and three figures of 
girls kneeling, and at their heads are five boys in the same 
attitudes. From the tomb rise eight Corinthian columns 



i8S JEFFERIES' LAND 

the most magnificent monument In the neigh- 
bourhood. 

Near by, on the north wall, at a considerable 
elevation. Is a monument to another St. John 
and his lady, dated 1633.^ The figures here 

of black marble, supporting an arch and entablature, with 
several figures and armorial bearings. On the entablature 
is the following inscription : — 

" D. S. 

" Johannes St. John Miles et Baronettus, annum agens 
XLIX um, mortalitatis suae memor H. M. M. P. C. Anno 
M.D.C.XXXIIII et sibi et Uxoribus suis Annae sc. et Mar- 
garettag. Anna Filia fuit Th. Leyghton Eq. Auae, ex Eliz. 
Conjuge Gentis Knowleisae, et Reginae Elizabeth setam 
virtutis quam cognationis ergo in Deliciis. Vixit annos 
XXXVII eximiis animi et corporis et gratiae muneribus 
datata, rarum virtutis et pietatis exemplum ; XIII Liberorum 
superstitium mater, tandem arumnosis ultimi puerperii 
agonibus diu confl.ictata et demum victa, fugit in coelum 
XIII Cal. Octob. M.D.C.XXVIII. — Margaretta Filia 
fuit Gul. Whitmor, Armig., de Apley, Provinciae Salop. 
Vivit LVIII um agens annum, virtutis laude spectabilis et 
bonis operibus intenta ; in istud hujus familiae Requiet- 
orium, suo tempore (ni aliter ipsa olim statuerit), aggre- 
ganda." — (Britton's Beauties of Wiltshire.) 

^ M.S. Foeminarum optimse Dominas Katherince Mompesson^ 
forma, pudicitia constantia, pietate, omni virtutum genere, 
praestantissimae, Johannis St. John de Liddiard Tregose, 
Baroneth Sororis natu maximae, Egidii Mompesson ex 
antiqua Familia de Bathampton in Comitatu Wiltis Equitis 
Aurati Conjugis charissimae, qui quidem Egidius viginti sex 



THE OXFORD ROAD 189 

are not full size. The knight is seated facing 
his lady, with an open book before him, which 
he appears to be silently regarding. His lady 
is also seated, in an attitude of melancholy re- 
flection, with her left hand upon a skull, which 
rests upon her knee, and the other supporting 
her head. Monuments to later members of the 
St. John family adjoin these. In the body of 
the church, but against the south wall, is a 
canopied monument to Nicholas Seynt John^ 

annorum Matrimonii faeliciter peractus, minime oblitus 
(adhuc superstes) hoc Sepulchrum condidit, ubi suas etiam 
cineres (quum occiderit) reponi jussit. Obiit XXVIII. 
Mart. A.D. 1633, 

^ Jacent hie, Optime Lector, sub spe beatse Resurrectionis, 
reposita corpora Nicholai Seynt Jhon^ Armigeri, et EHza- 
bethae conjugis suae, Regi Edoardo, Reginae Mariae, et 
Reginae Ehzabethae e selectorum stipatorum numero, quos 
vulga pentionarios vocantur : fuit cumque apud Principem 
locum obtinens mortem obiit, EHzabetha ipsius Uxor filia 
fuit Richardi Blunt, Militis ; ex esque genuit tres filios et 
quinque filias ; Johannem, Oliverum, Richardum ; Eliza- 
betham, Catherinam, Helinoram, Dorotheam, at que Janam. 
Johannes filius natu maximus in Uxorem duxit filiam Gual- 
teri Hungerford, Militis ; Oliverus et Richardus vivunt 
adhuc coelibes. Elizabetha filia natu maxima nupsit Seynt 
George, Comitatus Cantabrigiensis ; Catharina Webb ; 
Helinora Cave, Comitatus Northamptoniensis ; Dorothea 
Egiocke, Warvicensis ; Jana vero Nicholas, Comitatus 
Wiltesiensis. Ipse Nicholas Seynt John ex hac vita dis- 



I90 JEFFERIES' LAND 

and his lady, dated 1522. Beneath the canopy 
kneel the figures of the knight and his lady, 
but they are not full size. He Is in armour, 
and has a sword girded to his side. It may be 
remarked that the spelling of the name here 
•* Seynt John " Is a nearer approach to its or- 
dinary pronunciation In the neighbourhood 
than St. John. Close to the monument there 
Is a brass plate affixed to the wall In memory 
of George Richard St. John, dated 1824. 

The genealogical tablet, which has been 
already referred to. Is affixed, together with 
several others, to the south wall of the chancel, 
within the rails around the communion table. 
Above the tablets is a portrait of Queen Eliza- 
beth, evidently Intended to represent her In her 
earlier days. Over this stands a gilt imperial 



cessit octavo die Novembris, Anno Domini 1589 ; Eliza- 
betha vero ipsius Conjux ex hac vita discessit undecimo die 
Augusti Anno Domini 1587 ; insignem reliquentes trop- 
haeum posteris suis et famae purse et vitae integrae. Johannes 
Seynt John illorum filius hoc illis de se optime mentis et 
finis parentibus pietatis ergo Monumentum posuit. 

Anno Domini 1592. 
Nobis est Christus et in vita et in morte lucrum. Tem- 
pera qui long^ speras felicia vitas, Spes tua te fallit, testes 
utrique sumus. 



THE OXFORD ROAD 191 

eagle. The first tablet brings down the genea- 
logy of the St. Johns from the days of William 
the Conqueror, 1066 a.d., and from William 
Rufus, 1083 A.D., to 1654. All these tablets 
are covered with escutcheons and heraldic de- 
vices, the coats of arms of the persons referred 
to, which devices would themselves fill a 
volume, and exhibit every form of heraldic 
imagery. Another shows their alliance, 
affinity, and consanguinity to Henry VII. and 
to Queen Elizabeth, beneath whose portrait are 
the words '' Thirty-two Ancestors." The third 
tablet reveals the alliances which the St. Johns 
have made w^ith other noble families during the 
course of so many centuries. The ''ancient 
remains of Sir Richard St. George," already 
given, are inscribed at the foot of the centre 
tablet. It Is, no doubt from — 

" That Tregoz, a great Baron in his age," 

that Lydiard takes Its present name of Lydlard 
Tregoze, in order to distinguish it from 
Lydlard Millicent, another village near by. 
All these tablets open, and reveal other genea- 
logies beneath. The two centre ones when 
thrown open reveal a life-like portrait of John 



192 JEFFERIES' LAND 

St. John, knight and baron, full length, with 
his wife Lucy, daughter of Sir Walter Hunger- 
ford.^ Six children, of divers ages and heights, 
cluster round upon the right hand. This Lucy 
married again after the death of St. John, and 
the two figures upon the left hand are probably 
herself and her second husband. The date is 
1594, though the same Inscription states that 
the tablet was not erected until 161 5. These 
portraits are remarkably life-like, and have none 
of that stiffness which usually gives family 
paintings so disagreeable a harshness. The 
colours are still fresh and well preserved. The 
smiling, blue-eyed, brown-haired, hearty, En- 
glish-looking John St. John seems almost 
about to start forward from the wall. The 
description which Sir Walter Scott gives of 

1 " Here lieth the body of Sir John St. John, Knt., who 
married Lucy, daughter and coheire of Sir Walter Hunger- 
ford, of Farley, Knt., by whom he had issue Walter, that 
died young, Sir John St. John, Knt. and Baronet, Oliver, 
that died young, Katherine, Anne, Jane, Elinor, Barbara, 
Lucy, and Martha, that died a child. He deceased 20th 
September, 1 594. She was secondly married to Sir Anthony 
Hungerford, Knt., by whom she had Edward, Briget, and 
Jane, and then died the 4th June, 1598. This was erected 
by Sir John St. John, Knt. and Baronet, in the year 1655, 
the 20th of July." 



THE OXFORD ROAD I93 

King Richard Coeur-de-Lion might have been 
taken from this portrait of St. John, so singular 
is the coincidence. There is the same fearless, 
open, frank look which is said to have charac- 
terized the English hero of the Crusades. 

On the floor of the chancel is a very ancient 
stone slab to one Kiblewhite, the figures much 
worn with feet. Several helmets are sus- 
pended in divers parts of the church. The 
effect of these numerous monuments to de- 
parted greatness is very solemn, and is 
increased by the dim light from the stained 
glass windows. Here sleep the warrior and 
the statesman, men celebrated in their day, 
their names in all men's mouths, now only 
known by the epitaph and escutcheon. Who 
remembers the great baron Tregoz ? Who 
thinks of him when he hears of Lydiard Tre- 
goze } Ewgas is still less remembered. The 
St. John commemorated by Pope runs the 
best chance of immortality. Those who fought 
with doublehanded swords, with battle-axe and 
lance, have long been forgotten ; it is only the 
Muse who confers immortality. Ink is more 
durable than iron. Yonder hang the heavy 
helmets of a forgotten generation. Who re- 

o 



194 JEFFERIES' LAND 

member the wearers ? None but the genea- 
logist, and he only after much cogitation. 
Eight hundred years is a long time to look 
back upon. What innumerable events must 
have been witnessed by those who bore the 
name, or were the ancestors of the St. Johns in 
that long course of centuries ? They seem to 
have shared in the bounty of William the Con- 
queror ; they no doubt fought in the French 
wars, in the Wars of the Red and White 
Roses ; they were not backward in the times of 
the Great Rebellion. They have escaped all 
dangers, and survive yet. For those who 
sleep beneath the cold stone pavement of this 
ancient church the lines might make a good 
epitaph : — 

" The knights are dust, 
Their good swords are rust, 
Their souls are with the saints, we trust ! " 

Lydiard is now rarely the residence of the 
present Lord Bolingbroke. Lydiard Millicent 
is a pleasant village. Purton lies immediately 
beyond it. It is a large place, and dates from 
very ancient days. In Domesday Book ^ the 

1 "The same church (S. Mary at Malmesbury) holds 
Piritone." — Do7nesday reference. 



THE OXFORD ROAD I95 

name is spelt Pirltone. It is considered to 
mean Pear-tree town. A considerable part of 
Purton then belonged to the Abbey of Malmes- 
bury. Purton Church is a peculiar structure, 
somewhat resembling Wanborough, there being 
both a tower and a spire. There are several 
large niches outside the tower, which probably 
once contained images, which have now dis- 
appeared. Purton was once the residence of 
Edward Hyde, who afterwards became the 
celebrated Earl of Clarendon, Lord Chancellor 
in the time of King Charles II. His His- 
tory of the Great Rebellioii is the basis of all 
other histories of that great period. He was 
peculiarly qualified from his attendance upon 
the king, and from the ready access which he 
had to State documents, to perform such a task. 
It is an enormous work, judged by the modern 
standard, and extends to over two thousand 
closely printed pages. Whilst residing at Pur- 
ton, in the character of a private person, he was 
chosen a member of Parliament both by the 
adjacent town of Wootton Bassett, and a more 
distant place, but preferred " serving his neigh- 
bours " of the former place. The house in 
which he lived is, or was lately, the property of 



196 JEFFERIES' LAND 

the Earl of Shaftesbury. Purton has been in 
some sense connected with another distin- 
guished man. The celebrated Lord Clive 
married Margaret Maskelyne, daughter of 
Edmund Maskelyne, of Purton. Anthony 
Goddard was of Purton, in 1737. 

Purton was formerly famous for its morrice- 
dancing,^ an old English pastime which has 
almost died out. The old custom of mum- 
ming^ at Christmas seems also rapidly going 
out of date, though it is still kept up in the 
outlying country districts. Hand-bell ringing 
will probably follow, and then there will be 
little left indeed that savours of the pastimes of 
old England, Many lament the change, which 
is charged upon the railroads and canals. 

There is a splendid view from the summit 
of Pevenhill, Purton. It is said that no less 
than twenty-six church towers, or spires, can 
be counted on a clear day. BIrdllp Hill, in 
Gloucestershire, is then visible. Immediately 



^ Douce's Illustrations of Shakespeare^ published in 1839, 
has some good notes on morris-dancing. 

2 There is an excellent chapter on the Wiltshire Mum- 
mers in Mr. Morris's Swindon Fifty Years Ago. 



THE OXFORD ROAD 197 

beneath lie Braden Woods. Braden Forest 
was anciently of great extent, and was part 
of the property of the Duke of Lancaster. 
Monarchs hunted the deer in the depths of 
Braden Forest. King Henry the Eighth 
"rode a-hunting " there. It is still a large 
wood. 

The village of Fasterne lies at no very 
great distance from Purton. Here, says tradi- 
tion, was born King Richard, or else a Duke 
of York, probably the latter. 

Cleeve Pipard is a village lying between 
Broad Hinton and Purton. It is an ancient 
place. The pronunciation is Cliff. The manor 
of Cleeve Pipard was, in the year 1530, on 
the thirteenth of April, transferred from 
William Dauntsey, Alderman of London, to 
John Goddard, gent, of Aldborne. John God- 
dard, Esq., was the ancestor of the present 
owner of the estate, H. N. Goddard, Esq. 
The old Swindon family of the Bradfords is 
connected by marriage with the Goddards of 
Cleeve Pipard. 

Most of these places — Lydiard Tregoze, 
Lydiard Millicent, Purton, Cleeve Pipard — 
were visited by Aubrey, when he passed 



198 JEFFERIES' LAND 

through North Wilts, about two centuries 
since. 

Fairford Hes at a considerable distance from 
Swindon, and in another county, but is of a 
celebrity so great that it can scarcely be passed 
over in silence. 

The church is the cause of Its fame. It is 
a fine old structure, built more than three 
centuries ago by a person of the name of John 
Tame, in the year 1493. John Tame was a 
merchant and seafaring man, and chanced to 
take a prize ship destined for Rome. The 
prize was highly valuable on account of a 
quantity of magnificent stained glass which 
was found on board, and so greatly delighted 
was Tame with his capture that, bringing it 
to England, he built a church to put it in. 
The church was then dedicated to the Virgin 
Mary, and the stained glass has remained ever 
since, the wonder and admiration of all who 
have seen it. The design is said to have been 
that of Albrecht Durer, the celebrated artist,^ 
but doubt has been thrown upon this by the 



^ Jefferies described Diirer as an Italian artist, but he 
was German by birth, and did not go to Italy till 1505. 




WEST WINDOW, FAIRFORD CHURCH. 



.-i-^ 



THE OXFORD ROAD 199 

fact that at the date when this glass was made 
he had not yet reached his twentieth year, 
while it is well known that a length of time 
is necessary to complete such work. These 
windows number no less than twenty-eight, 
and the paintings are from scenes in the Bible. 
The choir windows contain the various 
events that attended the crucifixion of Christ ; 
these windows, together with some upon the 
western side of the church, are somewhat 
larger than the others. Other windows portray 
the apostles, prophets, martyrs, fathers, con- 
fessors, and persecutors of the church, in short 
a sort of ecclesiastical history. These figures 
are full size. Hell and damnation are repre- 
sented at the w^est end with such horrible 
minuteness of detail that we understand this 
window is usually kept covered. The paintings 
are well preserved and the colours fresh, while 
so excellent is the execution that Sir Anthony 
Vandyke was of opinion that they could not 
be surpassed by the pencil. It is scarcely 
probable that Durer could have designed these 
extensive windows ere he had attained his 
twentieth year ; or, if he had designed them, 
that they could have been executed in so short 



200 JEFFERIES' LAND 

a time as must necessarily have elapsed from 
the date of the design to the capture of the 
ship by John Tame. In all probability the 
fame of Diirer has usurped that of another 
less celebrated. During the Civil Wars, when 
such articles ran a great risk of destruction at 
the hands of the Parliamentarians, these paint- 
ings were turned wrong side uppermost, and 
so escaped being smashed. Bishop Corbett, 
who died on January 28th, 1635, and was, 
says one contemporary, " the best poet of all 
the bishops of that age," seems to have visited 
Fairford, since the following two poems are 
supposed to have been written by him upon 
Fairford windows : — 



" Tell me, you anti -saints, why brass 
With you is shorter lived than glass ? 
And why the saints have scap't their falls 
Better from windows than from walls ? 
Is it because the Brethren's fires 
Maintain a glass-house at Blackfryars ? 
Next which the church stands north and south, 
And east and west the preacher's mouth, 
Or is't because such painted ware 
Resembles something that you are, 
Soe pyde, so seeming, soe unsound, 
In manners and in doctrine found. 



THE OXFORD ROAD 23i 

That out of emblematick witt 

You spare yourselves in sparing it ? 

If it be soe, then, Fairford boast 

Thy Church hath kept what all have lost ; 

And is preserved from the bane 

Of either war, or Puritane : 

Whose life is coloured in thy paint 

The inside dross, the outside saint." 



"UPON FAIREFORD WINDOWES.*' 

" I knowe no painte of poetry 
Can mend such colore'd imagry 
In sullen inke, yet (Fayreford) I 
May relish thy fair memory. 
Such is the echoes fainter sound, 
Such is the light when the sunn's drown'd, 
So did the fancy look upon 
The work before it was begun. 
Yet when those showes are out of sight. 
My weaker colors may delight. 
Those images doe faith fuUie 
Report true feature to the eie, 
As you may think each picture was 
Some visage in a looking-glass ; 
Not a glass window face, unless 
Such as Cheapside hath, where a press 
Of painting gallants, looking out. 
Bedeck the casement rounde about. 
But these have holy phisnomy ; 
Each paine instructs the laity 
With silent eloquence ; for heere 
Devotions leads the eie, not eare. 



2C2 JEFFERIES' LAND 

To not the cathechisinge paint, 
Whose easie phrase doth soe acquainte 
Our sense with Gospell, that the Creede 
In such a hand the weake may reade, 
Such tipes e'er yett of vertue bee, 
And Christ as in a glass we see — 
When with a fishinge rod the clarke 
St. Peter's draught of fish doth marke. 
Such is the scale, the eye, the finn, 
You'd thinke they strive and leap within ; 
But if the nett, which holdes them, brake 
Hee with his angle some would take. 
But would you walke a turn in Paules, 
Looke up, one little pane inrouls 
A fairer temple. Flinge a stone. 
The church is out at the windowe flowne. 
Consider not, but aske your eies, 
And ghosts at midday seem to rise ; 
The saintes there seemeing to descend, 
Are past the glass and downwards bend. 
Look there ! The Devill ! all would cry, 
Did they not see that Christ was by. 
See where he suffers for thee ! See 
His body taken from the tree ! 
Had ever death such life before ? 
The limber corps, be-sully'd o'er 
With meagre paleness, does display 
A middle state Iwixt flesh and clay. 
His arms and leggs. His head and crown, 
Like a true lamb-kin dangle downe ; 
Whoe can forbeare, the grave being nigh. 
To bringe fresh ointment in His eye ? 
The wondrous art hath equal fate, 



THE OXFORD ROAD 203 

Unfixt, and yet, inviolate. 

The Puritans were sure deceav'd 

Whoe thought those shaddowers mov'd and heav'd 

So held from stonnige Christ ; the winde 

And boysterous tempests were so kinde 

As on His image not to prey 

Whome both the winde and seas obey. 

At Momus bee not amaz'd ; 

For if each Christian's heart were glaz'd 

With such a windowe, then each brest 

Might be his owne evangehst." 



206 



INDEX 



Despenser, 14. 
Devizes Road, 157. 
Domesday Book, 5, 115, 

194. 
Down, dun, dune, 3. 
Draycott Foliatt, 81, 142. 
Diirer, 198. 

Edmund, St., 3. 
Elizabeth, Queen, 91, 141. 
Estmere, King, 85. 
Ethelwerd, 114, 126, 145, 

158. 
Evelyn, 166. 

Fairford, 198. 
Flint digging, 112. 
Folly, The, 112. 
Frampton, Mr., 83. 

Gaunt, John of, 89, 92, 95. 
Goddard, 12, 13, 23, 24, 

29. 34, 45, 46. 
Gooch, Sir D., 70, 71. 

Great Western Railway, 59. 

Hewish, 150. 
Highworth, 20, 24. 
Hocker Bench, 122. 
Holy rood Church, 26. 

Ickleton Way, 113. 
Icknield Street, 123. 



Inglesham, 180. 
Iscot, 9. 
Isis, 80. 
Ivychurch, 14, 31. 

Jackson, Canon, 16, 21, 
32. 

Kennet, 81. 
King Milo, 32. 

Lacock Abbey, 12. 
Latt Mead, 118. 
Levet, 35, 38. 
Liddington Camp, 113. 
Liddington Church, iii, 

112. 
Liddington Hill, 112. 
Liddington Wick, 108, in. 
Littlecote, 12. 
Longstone, 15. 
Lovel, 12, 119. 
Lydiard Tregoze, 28, 181, 

184. 

Malmesbury Abbey, 14, 31. 
Marlborough Road, 132. 
Marsh, Narcissus, 32. 
May, Mrs., no. 
Morris, William, 16, 32, 88, 

99. 
Morris-dancing, 196. 
Mumming, 196. 



INDEX 



207 



Nennius, 136. 
Noad, 47, 48. 

Odin, 5. 

Odo of Bayeux, 6, 7. 
Olaf, 3. 

Ogbourne, 139, 
Overtown, 9. 
Oxford Road, 181. 

Pont'large, 13. 
Pope, 184, 193. 
Purton, 95, 121, 194. 

Richard of Cirencester, 171, 

176. 
Ridge Way, 113, 142, 146. 
Rutland, Francis, 91, 140. 

Sadler, Robert, 73. 

Sands, 23. 

Sarsdens, 15, 134, 149. 

Shrivenham, 121. 

Silbury Hill, 175, 177. 

Southwick, 31. 

Sweyn, 25. 

Swindon, Haute, etc., 9. 



Uffington, 130. 
Upper Upham, 82, 141. 
Uluric, 9. 
Ulward, 9. 

Valence, de, 12. 
Vilett, 14, 32, 35, 42. 

Wadard, 9. 

Wallingford, 30, 31. 

Wanborough, 113, 116. 

Wanborough Nythe, 115. 

Waniey Pen son., 73. 

Wantage, 131. 

Wayland Smith's Cave, 129. 

Webbe, Aristotle, 32. 

Weekes family, 49. 

Wenman, 14. 

Westlecott, 9. 

White Horses, 124. 

Wick, 135. 

Woolston, 123. 

Wootton Bassett, 12, 25, 

81. 
Wroughton, 9, 22, 81, 157. 
Wroughton, Sir W., 162. 



PUBLISHED BY 

ARTHUR YOUNG, WELLS, SOMERSET. 

Xon^on : 

SiMPKiN, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., Ltd, 

ALFRED ALEX. CLARKE. 

MONOGRAPH ON THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH 
OF WELLS, Illustrated with several reproduc- 
tions from Original Drawings by the Author. 
Ordinary Edition, post 8vo, is. 6d. net. 

Large Paper Edition, limited to 200 copies, 

35-. 6d. net. 

Edited by REV. SYDENHAM H. A. HERVEY. 

DIARY OF JOHN HERVEY, FIRST EARL OF 
BRISTOL, with Extracts from his Book of 
Expenses, 1688 - 1742. Wi^^ Illustrations. 
I vol., \os. 6d. 

LETTER-BOOKS OF JOHN HERVEY, FIRST 
EARL OF BRISTOL, 1651-1750. With 
Illustrations. 3 vols., loi". 6d. each. 

(Not sold separately.) 

ICKWORTH PARISH REGISTERS, 1566 - 1890. 
I vol. 5.r. 

The Five Volumes, uniform, in green cloth, small 4to, 

£2 7-f- 
Also WEDMORE PARISH REGISTERS : 

BAPTISMS, 1561-1812. icy. 6d. 

BURIALS, 1561-1860. IOJ-. 6d. 

MARRIAGES, 1561-1839. 5^. 

The Three Volumes, uniform in red cloth, small 4to, 

£1 6s. 



UNIYEESITY OF CALIFOENIA LIBRAEY, 

BERKELEY 



THIS BOOK IS DUE ON THE LAST DATE 

STAMPED BELOW 

Books not returned on time are subject to a fine of 
50c per volume after the third day overdue, increasing 
to $1.00 per volume after the sixth day. Books not in 
demand may be renewed if application is made before 
expiration of loan period. 



il 



^0^ "k'.^^ •*^''^' 




JESJiSiJ 





UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY 



^■■•■■■iafl^M 







Mm 



li